'Mix of ignorance and misinformation': Tomar counters Pawar's views on farm laws

Narendra Singh Tomar

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s critique of the new farm laws on Twitter was a mixture of “ignorance and misinformation.”

In a series of tweets, Tomar said he would “like to believe that the veteran politician was genuinely misinformed of the facts about the three laws. Now that he has the right facts, I hope he will also change his stand and also explain the benefits to our farmers.”

“Sharad Pawarji is a veteran politician and a former Union Agriculture Minister, who is also considered well-versed with the issues and solutions relating to Agriculture. He has himself tried hard to bring the same agriculture reforms earlier,” the Agriculture Minister tweeted.

He said since Pawar speaks with some experience and expertise on the issue, “it was dismaying to see his tweets employ a mix of ignorance and misinformation on the agriculture reforms. Let me take this opportunity to present some facts.”

“New Laws facilitate promotion of additional choice channel for farmers with a choice to sell their produce to anyone, anywhere with hassle-free movement in and outside the state to realize the competitive and better net price for their produce. This doesn’t affect the current minimum support price (MSP) system,” he said in another tweet.

Tomar added that under the new ecosystem, mandis are not affected. “Instead, they will be more competitive and cost-effective in terms of services and infrastructure; and both the systems will synergistically co-exist for the common interest of farmers,” he stated.

On Saturday, Pawar, the Union Agriculture Minister for 10 years in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s government, had posted a critique of the new farm laws against which farmers have been protesting at different borders of Delhi for over two months.

Pawar said the new central laws will adversely affect the MSP and weaken the mandi system. “Reform is a continuous process and no one would argue against the reforms in the APMCs or Mandi System, a positive argument on the same does not mean that it is done to weaken or demolish the system,” he tweeted.

“During my tenure, the draft APMC Rules – 2007 were framed for the setting up of special markets thereby providing alternate platforms for farmers to market their commodities and utmost care was also taken to strengthen the existing Mandi system,” he added.

Supporting the farmers’ stand that the new laws will result in loss of income, Pawar said, “New agricultural laws restrict the powers of Mandi system i.e. the collection of levy and fees from the private markets, dispute resolution, agri-trade licencing and regulations of E-trading.”

“New laws will adversely impact the MSP procurement infrastructure thereby weakening the Mandi system. MSP mechanism has to be ensured and strengthened further,” NCP chief tweeted further.

Pawar said he was also concerned about the amended Essential Commodities Act, as “according to the act the government will intervene for price control only if rates of horticultural produce are increased by 100 per cent and that of non-perishable items increase by 50 per cent.”

“Stockpiling limits have been removed on food grain, pulses, onion, potato, oilseeds etc. It may lead to apprehensions that Corporates may purchase commodities at lower rates and stock pile and sell at higher prices to consumers,” the former Agriculture Minister added.

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