Gaon Connection’s ‘The Rural Report 2: The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’, shows that farmers’ opinion on the new agri laws is divided. On both the sides — 52% opposing or 35% supporting these laws — many are unaware of the details of the acts.
Every second farmer interviewed as part of Gaon Connection’s latest rural survey opposed the three new agri laws in the country, whereas 35 per cent supported these laws. However, of the 52 per cent opposing the agri acts, over 36 per cent were not informed about the details of these laws. Similarly, of the 35 per cent supporting the agri laws, almost half, or 18 per cent, were not informed about them.
Among those who support the farm laws, almost half (47 per cent) are in favour because of the belief the laws will give them freedom to sell their crop anywhere in the country. On the other hand, among those who oppose these laws, the highest percentage of respondent farmers (57 per cent) feared ‘farmers would be forced to sell their produce at a lower price in the open market’.
These are some of the key findings of the Gaon Connection survey on ‘The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’ conducted across 53 districts in 16 states of India. This unique face-to-face survey by Gaon Connection Insights, the data and insights arm of India’s biggest rural media platform, was conducted between October 3 and October 9, and had 5,022 respondent farmers from five zones of the country. The margin of error of the survey is five per cent.
As per the findings of this survey, released as ‘The Rural Report 2: The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’, and available on www.ruraldata.in, the biggest fear of these new agri laws among respondent farmers (57 per cent) is that they would now be forced to sell their crop at a lower price in the open market, while 33 per cent of farmers fear the government will end the system of minimum support price (MSP). Further, 59 per cent respondent farmers want the MSP system to be made a mandatory law in India. A bigger proportion of marginal and small farmers (37 per cent), who own less than five acres (two hectares) of land, supports these agri laws, when compared to medium and large farmers (31 per cent).
During the last monsoon session of Parliament, three new agri bills were passed. Once President Ram Nath Kovind signed them on September 27, they became the law of the land. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside of the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market yards.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, gives farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, is meant to remove commodities such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion and potato from the list of essential commodities and do away with the imposition of stock holding limits.
A section of farmers and farmers’ organisations has been protesting the new farm laws. To document the opinion and perception of farmers on these new Acts, Gaon Connection carried out this rapid survey in 16 states of the country. The results have thrown up interesting findings.
For instance, the survey found that, overall, 67 per cent of farmer respondents were aware of the three recent agricultural laws. Meanwhile, two-thirds of farmers were aware about the recent farmers’ protests in the country. Awareness about such protests was more among farmers in the north-west region (91 per cent), which includes the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The least awareness was reported in the east region (West Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh) where less than half (46 per cent) were aware of the protests.
The survey found that 56 per cent of farmer respondents were aware of The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and 35 per cent of farmers said this law was pro-farmer. Regarding The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, about 49 per cent of respondent farmers were aware of this new law, while 46 per cent said this law was pro-farmer.
Regarding the third new agri law, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, 44 per cent of respondent farmers were aware of it, and 63 per cent said this law was pro-farmer.
A section of farmers is hopeful about the three new laws. For instance, 36 per cent of farmers felt the new agricultural laws would bring a positive change in their status, and 29 per cent believed they would help double their income by 2022.
However, there are farmers who fear the new farm laws. For example, 39 per cent of respondent farmers felt that because of the new agricultural laws, the mandi system/APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) would collapse in the country. The same percentage (39 per cent) of respondent farmers believed that because of the new agriculture laws, the MSP system would end in the near future. Meanwhile, 46 per cent of farmers feared the three laws would lead to big corporates/private companies exploiting farmers.
Predictably, 59 per cent of farmers said that the MSP system should be made a mandatory law in India. Interestingly, this Gaon Connection survey also found that 63 per cent of farmers said they sold their crop produce on MSP. In the south region (Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh), the highest proportion (78 per cent) of farmers sell their produce on MSP; followed by the northwest region (75 per cent) of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Further, sarkari mandi/APMC is the farmers’ most preferred medium of selling (36 per cent). The largest proportion of farmers in the northwest region (78 per cent) preferred selling to the sarkari mandi/APMC.
Interestingly, in spite of slightly more than half (52 per cent) respondent farmers opposing the three new agri laws (of which 36 per cent were not informed about these laws), almost 44 per cent of respondent farmers said the Modi government was ‘pro-farmer’, whereas about 28 per cent said it was ‘anti-farmer’. Further, to another survey question, a majority of farmers (35 per cent) said the Modi government supported farmers, whereas about 20 per cent said it supported private corporates/companies.
On being asked what farmers thought was the most pro-farmer step of the Modi government, the highest percentage of 32 per cent of respondent farmers said it was the PM Kisan Nidhi scheme followed by the Fasal Bima Yojana (21 per cent).
Farmers were also asked their perception of the state government. Almost 37 per cent of farmers said their respective state governments supported farmers. Further, 44 per cent of farmers said their respective governments were ‘pro-farmer’ and only 28 per cent said they were ‘anti-farmer’.
On being asked if they would want their children to become farmers, 34 per cent of respondent farmers replied positively. The survey also found that 41 per cent of medium and large farmers, and 32 per cent of marginal and small farmers reportedly wanted their children to become farmers.
For more details on the survey and its findings, and to download ‘The Rural Report 2: The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’ , log onto www.ruraldata.in