The Economic Survey 2021 released on January 29 said that the Centre’s recent reforms in the agricultural markets will enable the creation of "One India, One market" and offer more opportunities to farmers.
According to the survey, the agricultural reforms would enable farmers to sell where they get the “best deal” and thereby, allow competition, an essential condition for the welfare for the small farmer.
The observations come as the three laws that seek to liberalise trade in farm produce have run afoul of some farmer groups, especially those from Punjab and Haryana who have staging a sit-in protest along the borders of Delhi for weeks, demanded that they be scrapped. The government is firm on the laws. The violence on the Republic Day by some protesting farmers has hardened the stance on both sides.
The survey suggests that reforms in agricultural sector were “more overdue than even the labour reforms” as the existing laws had kept Indian farmers “enslaved to the local mandi and their rent-seeking intermediaries”.
While other categories of producers had the freedom to decide where they want to sell their produce, the farmer did not have the same opportunity, it said.
“The local monopolists created by this legal infrastructure enabled the intermediaries to prosper at the cost of the farmer, especially the poor ones without the wherewithal to store their produce,” the Economic Survey said.
The survey says besides creating "One India, One market" for agri-products, the reforms will also allow farmers “to move up the value chain in food processing–from farm to fork, create jobs and increase incomes”.Opposing the three farm laws passed by Parliament in September 2020, farmers fear that they will lead to the dismantling of the MSP system and corporatise farming. The Supreme Court has ordered a stay on the implementation of these laws.