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Growth in Agricultural yield in Bihar post-APMC act but still farmers are unhappy

Farmers angry over farm laws moved towards national capital in their ongoing protest against the three new farm laws. Whereas, the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar decided to end the 14-year-old Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Ac

Pritam Kashyap
A farmer in the field
A farmer in the field

Thousands of farmers angry over the three farm laws are protesting in the National capital since past two weeks. On the other hand, the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar decided to finish the 14-year-old Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act. 

Nitish Kumar came to power in 2005 and repealed the APMC Act in 2006 by shutting down the mandi i.e. the wholesale markets for the agricultural production system. After the abolition of APMC Act within the state, the Bihar government had introduced Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) as a designated agency for the procurement of paddy (rice) and there are roughly 8,500 PACS across the Bihar state. 

The agricultural productivity within the Bihar state has shown growth as the data tells but the response from farmers on the ground isn’t overwhelming. 

In 2006, Bihar was the first state within the nation to abolish the APMC Act which facilitated private companies to directly purchase from farmers. Under the APMC Act, the local municipal bodies used to charge 1 per cent of the selling price, both from the farmer and the purchaser. 

The reforms haven’t been very beneficial for them, claim farmers as they need to sell their produce to private companies at throwaway prices. However, agricultural productivity has increased. Between 2011-12 and 2018-19, India’s growth rate was 7.5 per cent while it had been 13.3 per cent in Bihar. 

According to Bihar government’s department of agriculture, wheat production in 2005-06 was 1,379 kg per hectare which rose to 2,797 kg per hectare in 2012-13. In 2018-19, the wheat production was 2,998 kg per hectare. 

In 2005-06, rice production in Bihar was 1,075 kg per hectare which rose to 2,523 kg per hectare in 2012-13. In 2018-19, the rice production per hectare was 1,948 kg per hectare as the rice production in 2014-15 was 2,525 kg per hectare, 2,104 kg per hectare in 2015-16, 2,467 kg per hectare in 2016-17, and 2,447 kg per hectare in 2017-18. Maize also witnessed a growth in its production. In 2005-06, it was 2,098 kg per hectare which increased to 3,975 kg per hectare in 2012-13 and therefore the maize production in 2018-19 was 4,771 kg per hectare. 

Bihar is among the leading producers of maize in India, the fourth-largest producer of vegetables and the eighth largest producer of fruits in the nation. Around 70 to 80 per cent of the population is involved in agriculture in Bihar. 

When PACS isn’t ready to purchase the produce of the farmers, local traders come into play and make huge profits. Farmers are compelled to sell their produce to local traders to avoid losses. 

“When the government fails to acquire food grains from farmers on time, then farmers are compelled to sell their produce within the open market to local traders,” says a local trader in Begusarai. 

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