Farmers of Madhya Pradesh have been blessed by such a gift during the Corona crisis in the state, which they have been waiting for a long time in normal days. In order to save the farmers from economic problems during the Corona crisis, the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has done a charisma by connecting the farmers with the global marketing by making amendments in the Mandi Act in just one stroke. On one hand the commission agents have got freedom from the license raj and on the other it an opportunity for the farmers to strengthen themselves financially. The entire world economy is collapsing during the Corona crisis. Farming and farmers are also at the center of economic discourse in the country. The Government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Center has handed over a Model Act to the State Governments for marketing of agricultural commodities. The government’s intention behind this is to make a uniform market arrangement for agricultural commodities across the country to enable the farmers to get better options while selling their produce. The previous government of the state had kept it in abeyance. When Chouhan got an opportunity to run the government for the fourth time, he took a big farmers’ friendly step with amendment in the Mandi Act in the interest of farmers during this period of disaster. Madhya Pradesh is the first state of the country, which has made amendments in the Mandi Act in the interest of the farmers.
This amendment will directly benefit the farmers. Now they can derive maximum benefit of their production. For this, they will no longer need to visit mandis repeatedly. Besides long wait in mandis, farmers had to come across with many problems regarding the quality of their produce. After amendment in the Mandi Act, now farmers can sell their crop to private traders from their homes itself. It is obvious that the security measures, which are being adopted at this time of Corona pandemic, the manifold increase in the problems of farmers was certain. The government had also taken some steps in the interest of farmers even before amending this Act, but now with the necessary amendments in the Mandi Act, it will be easier and more profitable for the farmers to sell their crops. The option to sell produce at the support price in mandis will remain just as it is with the farmers. After the new alternative system came into an existence, a new competition will arise in the trade of agricultural commodities, which will benefit the farmers. The licensee merchants will now be able to buy the crop from farmers’ homes or farms. With the same license, the merchants will be able to purchase anywhere in the state. This will eliminate the system of middlemen. For example, if a trader from Bhopal had to buy Arhar Dal from Pipariya, he had to purchase it through a licensee merchant there. With the end of this binding, the farmers as well as the consumers will be directly benefitted.
The government has also made arrangement for e-tendering. Under this, the farmers will get the rates of the mandis of the entire country. They will be able to sell their crop in any mandi of the country, where they get higher prices. Fruits and vegetables are already exempted from the Mandi Act in the state. Apart from this, Mandi fee is also paid on one time purchase and sale. It is noteworthy that the agricultural produce mandis were also a good step towards liberating the farmers from exploitation. But now the needs are changing according to the time. Apart from this, owing to the politicisation of the mandis, the mandis have become a vicious circle for the farmers, in which the farmers were seen suppressed and looted. Anyway, when the concept of free market is flourishing all over the world, then there is no point in tying farmers to the mandis. Therefore, the amendment in the Mandi Act can be termed as a major step of the government in the direction of linking the farmer with free trade. The benefits of this change in the system are expected to be availed by both producers and consumers alike. For example, a farmer sells mangoes on his farm for Rs. 10 or 20 per k.g. to a trader, but the price of the mangoes becomes Rs. 80 or 100 per k.g. when it reach consumer. Under the new system, food processors, exporters, wholesellers or end users will be able to buy the produce directly from the farmers’ village itself outside the mandis. This means that the farmers will now also become merchants of their own production.
After the amendments in the Mandi Act, now warehouses, silo, cold storage etc. will also be considered as private mandis. Mandi committees will have no interference in the work of these private mandis. Also, this will be a solution to the problem of storage, which arises before the farmers in every crop season. Right now, due to storage problem, farmers are always in a way surrounded by apprehensions about their produce. After the amendment in the Act, at least it will not happen now that the yield is high, prices fall and the farmers have to destroy it in the fields. During the time of Corona pandemic, such reports are coming that the fruits and vegetables of the farmer are rotting in the fields. Apart from this, there are such reports on normal days that the farmers are finding it expensive to take their crop to the mandis, so they thought it better to destroy the crop. This pain of the farmers is now expected to subside. Now the food processors will be able to buy crop directly from the farmers. In such a situation, food processing industries will also get a boost in the state.
Farmer Gorelal, a resident of Suraj Nagar of Bhopal says that it is clearly visible from the decisions of the government that the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh is not only concerned about the farmers but being from a farmer family, he understands the problems of farmers in a better manner. He has also done a lot in his last tenure in the interest of farmers. Apart from providing loans on zero rate of interest, subsidy on interest, he also took many major steps like Bhavantar Yojana in the interest of farmers, ‘I think being a son of farmer; Chouhan understands the real pains of the farmers in a better manner’. This step of the government has opened a new path for the farmers in this era of economic recession. Today the market for the farmers is getting bigger and wider.