65% Farmers Oppose Three New Agri Laws: Gaon Connection Survey

Agricultural Farming

New Delhi, October 19, 2020: In a first-of-its-kind survey to document the opinion and perception of the Indian farmer towards the recently passed three agri laws in the country that promise, among other things, freedom to farmers to sell their produce in the open market, Gaon Connection’s survey on ‘The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’ found every second respondent farmer opposed to the three laws, while 35 percent farmers supported these acts. However, it was also found that of the 52% opposing the agri laws, over 36% were not informed about the details of these laws. Similarly, of the 35% supporting the agri laws, almost 18% were not informed about them.

This unique face-to-face survey by Gaon Connection Insights, the data and insights arm of India’s biggest rural media platform, was conducted between October 3 and October 9 across 53 districts in 16 states of the country.

As per the findings of the survey, released as ‘The Rural Report 2: The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’ and available on www.ruraldata.in, the biggest fear of these new agri laws among the respondent farmers (57%) is that they will now be forced to sell their crop produce at a lower price in the open market, while 33% farmers fear the government will end the system of minimum support price (MSP). Further, 59% respondent farmers want the MSP system to be made a mandatory law in India. A bigger proportion of marginal and small farmers, who own less than five acres land, support these agri laws in comparison to medium and large farmers.

Interestingly, in spite of slightly more than half (52%) the respondent farmers opposing the three new agri laws (of which 36% were not informed about these laws), almost 44% respondent farmers said the Modi government was ‘pro-farmer’, whereas about 28% said it was ‘anti-farmer’. Further, to another survey question, a majority of farmers (35%) said the Modi government supported the farmers, whereas about 20% said it supported the private corporates/companies.

During the last monsoon session of the Parliament, three new agri bills were passed, followed by the President Ram Nath Kovind signing them on September 27, which are now the law of the land. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside of the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market yards. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, gives farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, is meant to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potato from the list of essential commodities and do away with the imposition of stock holding limits.

A section of farmers and farmers’ organisations have been protesting against the new farm laws. To document the opinion and perception of the farmers on these new Acts, Gaon Connection carried out this rapid survey with 5,022 respondent farmers spread across all regions of the country (see survey methodology for details).

The survey found that overall 67% farmer respondents were aware of the recent three agricultural laws. Meanwhile, two-third of farmers were aware about the recent farmers’ protest in the country. Awareness about such protests was more among the farmers in north-west region (91%), which includes the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Least awareness was reported in the east region (West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh) where less than half (46%) were aware about recent farmers’ protest.

Overall, 52% farmers reportedly oppose the three new agri laws, whereas 35 per cent support these Acts. Of those who support these laws, almost half (47%) favour them because they believe it will give them freedom to sell their crop anywhere in the country. Among those who oppose these laws, the highest percentage of respondent farmers (57%) said they did not support the three laws because ‘farmers will be forced to sell their produce at lower price in open market’.

Some other key findings the Gaon Connection Survey:

56% farmer respondents aware of The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; 35% farmers said this law was pro-farmer

49% respondent farmers aware of The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; 46% farmers said this law was pro-farmer

44% respondent farmers aware of The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; 63% said this law was pro-farmer

39% respondent farmers felt that because of the new agricultural laws, mandi system/APMC will collapse/finish in the country

39% respondent farmers believe because of the new agriculture laws, the MSP system will end in the near future.

46% respondent farmers said they thought the three bills will lead to big corporates/private companies exploiting farmers.

36% farmers said they think the new agricultural laws will bring a positive change in their status; 29% farmers said they believe the three new agricultural laws will help double their income by 2022. 

59% respondent farmers said the MSP system should be made a mandatory law in India

Around 63% farmers said they have sold their crop produce on MSP. In the south region (Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh) highest proportion (78%) farmers sell their produce on MSP; followed by the northwest region (75%) of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh

Overall, sarkari mandi/APMC is the most preferred medium of selling (36%) by the farmers. The largest proportion of farmers in the northwest region (78%) prefer selling to the sarkari mandi/APMC.

51% said farming was profitable; 34% said they want their child to become a farmer

Two months back, in August, Gaon Connection had released findings of another unique survey on the impact of COVID19 on rural India. This first-of-its-kind national survey conducted across 23 states and union territories in the country, had 25,000 respondents. The Rural Report 1: The Impact of COVID-19 on Rural India with detailed findings and data analysis was released too. 

Both ‘The Rural Report 2: The Indian Farmer’s Perception of the New Agri Laws’, and ‘The Rural Report 1: The Impact of COVID-19 on Rural India’ are available on www.ruraldata.in