Amid a walkout by the opposition Congress and JD(S), the Karnataka assembly on Saturday approved an amendment to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, which allows private players to directly approach farmers to purchase agricultural produce.
Both Congress and the JD(S) alleged that the government was succumbing to the pressure of corporates and multinational companies. Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said the private secretary to Home Minister Amit Shah had on May 4 written to the state government, asking it to introduce bills to amend the APMC and labour reforms.
"Farmers have not demanded the bill," he said. The government, instead of "handing over" the future of farmers to corporates, should strengthen the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees, Siddaramaiah said.
JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said the Bihar government had scrapped APMCs in 2006, leaving farmers to directly deal with traders. This decision left the farmers in the lurch as they did not get a proper market, he alleged.
"The information I have is that the farmers there are forced to sell their produce in Punjab and Haryana," Mr Kumaraswamy said.
Minister for Cooperation ST Somashekar said the amendment was necessary because farmers and traders were being "harassed" by traffic police and vigilance department officials.
"The amendment will enable anyone with a PAN card to do business with farmers. The growers will not face any problems," he said.
Assuring members that the government would not allow any "injustice" to happen to farmers, Mr Somashekar moved the bill and it was passed with a voice vote.