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New Farm Laws Have the Potential to Raise the Income of Farmers: Gita Gopinath, IMF

Prity Barman
Prity Barman
Raise the Income of Farmers: Gita Gopinath, IMF

India's newly enacted Farm laws have the ability to increase the income of farmers, but poor farmers need to be supported with a social safety net, said IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath.

Indian agriculture, she said, is in need of improvement.

There are many places where changes are needed, including infrastructure, the Washington-based global financial institution's chief economist said on Tuesday.

The three agricultural laws, implemented last September, have been designed by the Indian government as major agricultural reforms that will abolish third parties and encourage farmers to sell their products anywhere in the world.

In response to a query on the latest farm laws, Ms. Gopinath stated: ‘these new farm laws were in the field of marketing. This was helping the farmers by expanding the market for them. This will allow farmers to sell without having to pay a fee to several distributors outside the Mandis and this has the opportunity to improve, in our opinion, the profits of farmers.’

That said, there are adjustment costs any time a change is brought in place. To guarantee that the social safety net is given, one needs to ensure and pay careful attention that it is not harming poor farmers. Clearly, right now there's a debate and we'll see what if it comes out, she said.

Since 28 November last year, thousands of farmers in India, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several border points in Delhi, seeking the abolition of farm laws and a legal guarantee for their crops at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

There have been 11 rounds of talks between the government and farmers' leaders so far, with both sides hardening their positions.

The government proposed to suspend the laws for 1-1.5 years in the last round of talks and form a joint committee to find remedies, in exchange for protesting farmers returning from the Delhi border to their respective homes.

Farmer representatives, however, said that they will settle for nothing less than a full reversal of the laws they find pro-corporate and a legal assurance at the government-fixed MSP for the acquisition of crops.

At many boundary points in Delhi, the Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella group of 41 farmers' unions, is leading the agitation against the three central farm laws.

As tens of thousands of demonstrators smashed through walls, clashed with police, toppled vehicles and hoisted a flag from the ramparts of the iconic Red Fort, Tuesday's tractor parade in New Delhi, which was to highlight the demands of farmers' unions to repeal three new agri-laws, dissolved into chaos on the streets of the capital.

During the tractor parade, the Kisan Morcha disassociated itself from those who indulged in violence and charged that such 'antisocial elements' invaded their otherwise nonviolent campaign.

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