THANJAVUR: With the President of India, Sri Ramnath Kovind recently giving assent to Tamil Nadu's new law on contract farming, there has been a mixed reaction from farmers of Cauvery delta districts to the contract farming move of the State government.
While S.Ranganathan, secretary, Cauvery delta farmers welfare association welcomed contract farming, V.Jeevakumar of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and a farmer from Budalur said that it will deprive farmers of many facilities they enjoy now from Government and put them in the hands of corporate companies.
Contract farming is a pre-production agreement between farmers, either collectively or individually and sponsors says the Tamil Nadu agricultural produce and livestock contract farming and services (promotion and facilitation) act 2019. Farmers will get support from contractors (corporate companies) with respect to inputs, advance money, feed, fodder and technology says the act.
Ranganathan said that, if the relationship between the farmer or farmers groups and companies is good, contract farming will work well. “Everything will be taken care of by the company from giving inputs, nurturing the crop till its harvest and farmers may not have much work. Thus contract farming is good for farmers in the age of 60s and 70s i.e. who are in the evening of their lives.
Farmers Producers companies stand to gain as they can take up contract farming on behalf of farmers. He also said that companies like Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) are doing well in contract farming. Success of the contract farming will also depend upon the companies,” he said. “It is to be welcomed,” he added.
Jeevakumar on the other hand, said that only to evade its responsibility of procurement, providing prices to crops, government is encouraging contract farming.
“Nearly 118 crops have been listed for contract farming and crops, which the farmer should raise will be decided by the companies. Prices also will be fixed by them. Recommendation of the National Agriculture Commission that price should be production cost plus half of it will not be implemented. Many farmers who migrate to cities will give land on lease to farm labourers. That is different. Now corporate companies will take over and farmers will become slaves to them. It will introduce new colonialism,” Jeevakumar feared.
However, R. Pannirselvam, managing director, Cauvery Delta Agro Producer Company Ltd (CDAPCL) ( the company has 1,000 farmers as its members) said that contract farming is welcome, provided there is no violation of norms on both sides i.e. farmers and the company. “Farmers will get advance money, inputs etc. Normally when farmers depend upon banks, they may not get loan in time. So in contract farming money is given in advance to farmers. But sometimes farmers flout norms and sell the vegetables or crops to other companies. Companies also if they don't have demand, they may not purchase the product even at the cost of loosing advance.
“These things should be sorted out. I cultivated Gherkins for export market under contract farming. I sent 19 containers of Gherkins to Canada. But they paid the amount agreed upon in the contract for gherkins sent in eight containers which reached them. Other eleven containers are in sail. At that time prices have fallen in the market for gherkins,” he said.
“The foreign party said they will pay only the reduced price for the rest of eleven containers. They also pointed out that the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Agency (APEDA) has provided subsidy for me and I will not incur loss. But the fact is I have not availed this subsidy as I am not aware of existing of such subsidy. Farmers should know all facilities available to them and should stick on to norms of the contract,” added Pannirselvam.