India / NCP chief Sharad Pawar to meet Prez Kovind on Dec 9 over farmers' protest

Zoom News : Dec 07, 2020, 01:09 PM
NEW DELHI: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar is to meet President Ram Nath Kovind on 9 December over the ongoing farmers' protest against laws that seek to change farm trade, news reports said Sunday.

But as agriculture and consumer affairs minister in 2010, Pawar himself had argued for changes in the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act seeking amendments on the lines of the Model State Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act 2003 "to encourage the private sector in in providing alternative competitive marketing channels in the overall interest of farmers/producers and consumers."

Pawar’s NCP had staged a walk-out in the Rajya Sabha when the three farm bills were introduced in September during the parliament's monsoon session, news reports said. And his meeting with the president on Wednesday is seen as aimed at presenting the case of the protesting farmers who want the three laws repealed.

In his letter dated 11 August 2010, addressed to the former chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, Pawar said that he wanted to draw Dikshit’s “personal attention to the matter of considerable importance to the agriculture sector and the well being of the farmers."

“The agriculture sector needs well functioning markets to drive growth, employment and economic prosperity in the rural areas of the country," Pawar wrote in his letter.

“This requires huge investments in marketing infrastructure including cold chain. And for this, private sector participation is essential for which an appropriate regulatory and policy environment needs to be in place," Pawar had said.

In another letter in November 2011, addressed to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Pawar had said that the private sector needed to play an important role in investments in the post harvest infrastructure development process including setting up cold chains.

“An appropriate regulatory and policy environment therefore needs to be in place for the purpose," he said.

Pointing out that his ministry had consistently taken up the matter, Pawar added that “tardy progress" had been made in the reforms.

Since 27 November, hundreds of thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have occupied highways bordering the national capital of Delhi with their tractor-trolleys, demanding that the government withdraw the bills and make assured purchases at support prices a legal entitlement. Farmers say that they fear that by weakening state regulated markets and widening the role of private corporations, the laws will dilute existing state purchase of food grains at minimum support prices (MSP). Several rounds of talks with the government have not yielded results and the farmers have called for a national strike on 8 December.