NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the government is committed to ensuring the welfare of farmers and protecting their interests, as thousands of farmers continued protests for the 17th straight day against three new farm laws.
Speaking at the 93rd annual general meeting (AGM) of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), PM said recent farm reforms will give farmers new markets and access to technology, and help bring investments that will benefit the farming community.
The government has taken various initiatives to improve the income of people engaged in the farm sector, he said, adding that it is committed to protect the interest of farmers through policies and intentions.
“The aim of the all government reforms is to make farmers’ prosperous,” he said adding that private sector must help improve the sector.
Modi’s comments came in the backdrop of protests by thousands of farmers at various border points of Delhi, seeking to repeal of the new farm laws, which they claim were aimed at benefitting corporates by weakening the mandi system and the MSP regime for procurement of farm produce.
“We had seen walls between agriculture sector and other areas associated with it – be it agriculture infrastructure, food processing, storage or cold chain. All walls and obstacles are being removed now,” Modi noted.
He assured that after reforms, farmers will get new markets, options and more benefits of technology. Farmers will have option to sell their crops in mandis as well as to outside parties.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the limited participation of India Inc in the agriculture sector, the Prime Minister asked industries to show there interest and increase investment in the sector.
Unfortunately the India Inc “has not made adequate investments in agriculture and private players did not explore the sector to its full potential, rather they worked in limited fashion,” he noted.
The PM further added that modernisation of cold storage infrastructure will will result in more investments, thereby benefitting the farmers.
The farming community has expressed apprehension that three new laws — Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 — would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.
At least five rounds of formal talks have taken place between the Centre and representatives of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, but the deadlock has continued with the unions sticking to their main demand for the repeal of the three contentious laws.
Enacted in September, the laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
(With agency inputs)
In Video:PM Narendra Modi addresses FICCI’s 93rd AGM