Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said a set of laws enacted recently to liberalise the farm sector would “greatly benefit” the farming community and he was ready to discuss all outstanding issues with protesting farmers.
Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit 2020, Singh said: “I want to reassure the farmers of this country. They should end their agitation. I invite them for talks. I am the defence minister but I invite them as the son of a farmer. We can never cheat farmers.”
Singh said the recent reforms will lead to higher farm incomes. “I can say, as the son of a farmer, that the results will be visible in the next four to five years. There will be an increase in farmers’ earnings,” he said.
The laws would in no way harm farmers’ interests, the defence minister said. “I can say this with confidence because I have read every clause of the bills, the mandi (procurement system) will not end and will continue,” he said.
“As far as the question of purchase of grains at minimum support prices is concerned, it has been continuing and will continue in the future. In fact, the government will purchase more quantities going forward than it has in the past,” the defence minister said.
The defence minister’s comments have come on a day that the police detained hundreds of farmers in Haryana and security on the Delhi-Haryana border was tightened to stop cultivators from entering the national capital, where they plan to hold rallies.
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and other states are protesting a set of laws approved by Parliament in September to open up agricultural markets in the country and allowing agribusinesses to freely trade farm produce without restrictions.
Farmers say the reforms would make them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations and weaken the government’s minimum support price (MSP) system.