Despite objections from the opposition parties, the Karnataka cabinet on Thursday approved an ordinance that will amend the laws to curtail the powers of the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC).
According to the government, it is aimed at bringing in reforms to facilitate market access for farmers.
"The cabinet has approved an ordinance for APMC.....we have have amended only couple of sections...now farmers can sell their produce as per their wish to private companies or at market, we have relaxed the norm that farmers have to sell at market yards only," Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy said.
He said wherever the farmer feels he will get profit, he can sell it there. One can sell produce at APMC markets or outside markets or to private buyers.
"We have prescribed central act as model act with an intention to double the income of farmers and to relax restrictions to give them the freedom to sell their produce anywhere they want. With this intention, we have approved the ordinance," he added.
Opposition parties have vehemently opposed the ordinance and threatened agitation, claiming that it would dilute the APMC laws and affect the farmers' interests.
The measure would only help big private companies as it will clip the powers of the APMCs, they charged.
Conceding that market committees will now have powers to regulate trading within the market and not outside it, the Minister said the powers of the Directorate of APMC at the state level have not been removed and it will have all the authority to prevent any injustice.
He said if someone wants to trade in the private market, he will have to produce bank security or guarantee, and after deposit will be allowed to purchase materials from farmers after obtaining the licence from the Directorate of agriculture market.
As there will be direct link between producer and trader, there will be no middlemen hassles also with this amendment, he added.
Governor Vajubhai Vala had recently returned this ordinance citing procedural reasons and asked the cabinet to approve it first.
The government had earlier planned to take post-facto approval from the Cabinet for the ordinance.
Clarifying on it, Madhuswamy said "..the Governor had put it on hold until the cabinet decision."
The amendments to agriculture produce marketing laws are aimed at removing restrictions on sale of farm produce and allowing farmers to sell their produce anywhere, officials said.
Further stating that he was unable to understand about negative publicity for the amendment, Madhuswamy said, "we have said it clearly, farmers can sell wherever they want."
"Even now private players are purchasing from farmers directly, this will regularise it," he said, adding that there might be some reduction in market cess collection for the government.
The state government is said to have taken the ordinance route to amend the APMC Act following the Centre's suggestion to adopt the Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2017, of the union government.
BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have made amendments to the APMC Act.
Alleging that the state government was bringing the amendment at the Centre's behest, the Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said it was against the constitution as agriculture is a state subject.
However, defending the government, Madhuswamy said, "this is absolutely a state act and we are only following the model provisions of the central act. As we felt we will benefit from this model, we have adopted couple of sections from that model and adopted in our act."