Consultations for the agricultural reform laws had been on for the last 20-22 years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said

The Minimum Support Price (MSP) was announced like earlier and procurement at MSP was carried out in the same ‘mandis’ (markets) in the six months since the new farm laws were enacted, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday.

The Swaminathan Committee report, recommending MSP at one-and-a-half times the cost to the farmers, had been implemented by the government, he said, adding that previous governments had not done so.

Pointing out that consultations for the agricultural reform laws had been on for the last 20-22 years, he said farmers, farmers’ organisations, agricultural experts, agricultural economists as well as agricultural scientists had been continuously demanding reforms in the sector.

“If anyone has any apprehension, we bow our heads, fold our hands, very humbly in the interest of the farmers of this country, to address their concern, we are ready to talk on every issue,” Prime Minister Modi said, while addressing a famers summit in Madhya Pradesh through virtual conferencing.

“I assure every farmer of the country that the MSP will continue like before. It will continue to be given, MSP will not be removed, nor will it end,” PM Modi said.

Launching a scathing attack on the political parties using the concerns of the farmers for political gains, he said, “If the old manifestos of all the political parties are seen today, listen to their old statements, the letters of those who were earlier handling the country’s agricultural system is seen, the agricultural reforms taken today are not different from them.”

He said that people, for their own benefit, are spreading several pieces of disinformation regarding the new laws. He referred to the cultivation of pulses and said, in the five years before 2014, around one-and-a-half metric tonnes of pulses were brought from the farmers.

“When our government came in the year 2014, we changed the policy and took big decisions,” PM Modi said. The Modi administration purchased 112 lakh metric tonnes of pulses at MSP from farmers as compared to the earlier purchases, he added.

He said that there is another lie which is being spread about the APMC, or the Mandis.

“What have we done in the law? We have given freedom to farmers in the law, given a new option,” he said.

Clarifying the issue, he said that the government has only given the freedom to the farmers to sell their produce anywhere they want. The farmers can sell the produce in the Mandi or outside it wherever he gets a better price, he said.

“Not a single mandi has been closed since the enactment of the law, then why is the lie being spread? The truth is that our government is spending more than Rs 500 crores on modernisation and computerisation of the APMC,” PM Modi said during the summit.

The third lie about the new laws, he said, is about the farming agreements. The farming agreement is not new in the country and has been operational in India for years, he said.

He said that even after what all he has said, if farmers are still doubtful, we are ready to talk on each and every issue ‘folding our hands,’ he said.

Prime Minister Modi also assured that on the birth anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on December 25, he will talk once again on the issue in more detail. It is the same day when another instalment of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi will be transferred into the accounts of a large number of farmers.