India: Sikh Human Rights Group publishes brief on farmers’ protest, alleging agricultural reforms empower large corporations at expense of farmers
“Briefing Paper on Farmers’ Issue in India”, December 2020
Laws (known as the three Farm Bills) have recently been introduced in India that have eroded the already fragile protection afforded to small farmers;
The fundamental right to go to Court on contractual disputes, under Articles 6 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), has been taken away from farmers;
Around 126 million Indians are small farmers; Around 70% of Rural Households depend on Agriculture for their livelihood; and around 86% of farms in India are small or marginal…
MSP [Minimum Support Price] is recommended by the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices and … ensures that the farmer gets a minimum price for the produce, irrespective of the market…
WHAT IS BEING CHANGED:
… The Government has removed any reference to MSP in the Three Farm Bills…
… Under the three Farm Bills it is not mandatory for a company to make a written contract with the farmer for any contract farming. So, even if the company violates the terms of the contract, the farmer cannot prove it;
The Government has legislated that a dispute between a small farmer and large national trader cannot be taken to court but instead must be arbitrated by a local Government official…
Farmers are concerned that they will be pushed into debt;
That the Government officer charged with arbitration will most likely be corrupt and therefore influenced by large traders to find in their favour and/or against the small farmers; and
That small farmers will be forced to sell their land to the larger traders or mega farms.
Millions of small farmers are scared that they will be forced into poverty;
… [L]arge mega farms will take over the countryside; and Environmental damage caused by … mass use of commercial pesticides will … lead to nearly irreversible soil damage …
WHAT DO FARMERS WANT:
The farmers are now demanding … MSP be introduced into legislation;
The Farmers are demanding better subsidies to protect the environment.
The Farmers are demanding that they have same rights as every citizen and be able to go to court in case of contractual disputes.