Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has said that the state government will ensure that farmers from other states do not benefit from selling their produce in the state, NDTV reported on Tuesday. This contravenes the farm laws passed last week by the Centre, which promises barrier-free trade at markets and prices of the farmer’s choice.
Khattar, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, said at a virtual press briefing that Haryana has to take care of its farmers and it “doesn’t have to worry about farmers of other states”. He refused to procure crops from other states.
“We will ensure that the maize and bajra of Haryana farmers are completely bought,” Khattar said. “We won’t let it happen that farmers from other states will benefit by selling it in our state. We have to care about the farmers of our state. We don’t have to worry about other states.”
Khattar said Congress-ruled states like Punjab and Rajasthan have not been procuring crops like maize and bajra on the minimum support price, forcing farmers from those states to sell their produce in Haryana.
“The Congress is making it political,” Khattar alleged. “But I have a question for them. Why are their governments in Punjab and Rajasthan not doing this [procuring maize and bajra]? We will not procure maize and bajra from other states because it’s us who [will] incur the losses. This is the share of the farmers of Haryana.”
On Monday, authorities in Haryana stopped farmers from Uttar Pradesh from entering Karnal district to sell their paddy crop at government-run wholesale markets, in contravention on the farm bills, passed on September 27. The order was issued by Karnal Deputy Commissioner of Police Nishant Yadav.
On September 22, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said the farmers’ opposition to the agriculture bills was based on a “misunderstanding”. He said the rumour that the bills, now laws, would do away with the minimum support price for crops was false.
The farm laws and protests
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill were cleared by Parliament last week amid protests from the Opposition. President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the bills on September 27, after which they became laws.
There have been massive protests against the three farm laws in Punjab and Haryana, two states considered “grain bowls” of the country. The protests have been backed by most Opposition parties. Farmers and traders have been vehemently opposing the new bills, alleging the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms.
Critics say that these new agricultural policies would lead to farmers losing out on guaranteed purchase prices for their crops, to the benefit of large corporations.