The third tranche of economic measures made significant hints towards contract farming and related policy initiatives. After various state governments taking various steps related to agricultural marketing, the central government has brought an ordinance on contract farming making it legal to sell farm produce beyond traditional APMCs and undergo contract farming.
National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) has recently been updated with two new software so that farmers need not have to travel a long distance to sell their harvest. Through the new updates, the farmers will be able to access buyers through the mobile software from the nearest warehouses and will be able to connect to the e-NAM from their own collection centres. Currently, e-NAM faces several issues due to both the lack of cooperation from the local governments and parties involved and also due to the limitations in the availability of supportive infrastructures.
Seeds occupy a peculiar position in agriculture. They are at the root of big policy-making, scaled agricultural outputs, while also at the top of discourses on food security, livelihood and innovation. They may seem to strengthen the quality food policy but are integral to farmers. Recently, the ministry of agriculture and farmer’s welfare introduced the draft seed bill, 2019 in the parliament. It was introduced with the aim of regulating the seed industry in India and ensuring the welfare of farmers through regulating the prices of hybrid seeds, ensuring certification of seeds, holding seed companies accountable if seeds don’t perform according to the expectations, etc. It was followed by the protest by farmers all over India stating that it threatens the sovereignty of farmers over seeds.
PepsiCo, a multi-million dollar conglomerate, has sued Gujarati farmers asking them to pay ₹1.05 crore each for alleged violation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
The company claimed that farmers violated its patent rights by cultivating the potato variety used in its chips product named Lays.
However, after facing boycott calls by potato farmers and the government’s pressure, PepsiCo has offered to withdraw the case if the farmers stop growing the registered potato variety used in its Lays chips.
This issue highlights the importance of seed sovereignty and the role played by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 in protecting the rights of the farmers and prevent seed monopoly.
This article explains the following in an analytical manner with a mindmap for quick revision:
- What is the issue?
- What is PepsiCo’s perspective?
- What is the farmers’ perspective?
- What is contract farming?
- What is seed sovereignty?
- What are the salient features of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001?
- Why is the PPV&FR Act significant?
- What is the way forward?
Recently, Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKRLM), ‘UMEED’, through its Self Help Group (SHG) platform has initiated a first of its kind all-women dairy Farmers Producer Organization (FPO) at Mitrigam in Pulwama district. The initiative is quite a milestone as it is the first of its kind of being an FPO with all its members as women. Nowadays, farmer producer organisations are quite famous among farmers as these are playing a crucial role by helping their members achieve better produce prices and creating employment. The Government of India through its various initiatives has been trying to promote such organisations for quite some time. As the trends suggest, they have a larger role to play in the coming time.