Patna,(BiharTimes): Farmers in Bihar are generally supporting the Foreign Direct Investment in the multi-brand retail sector even as some economists, social activists and different political parties are opposing it.
While others have their own arguments to oppose the central government move the farmers have personal reasons to feel elated. The general feeling is that this would help them come out of the exploitative clutches of the middlemen-traders.
But they are greatly dismayed by the stand taken by the Nitish Kumar government, which they say, got overwhelming support from the farmers in all the elections. “It is understandable for the BJP to oppose the FDI in this sector because it depends heavily on traders for votes. Even the BJP supports it, but is opposing it for opposition sake. But why is it that the Janata Dal (United) leaders like its president, Sharad Yadav, and Bihar chief minister opposing it,” one of the farmers, who wished not to be quoted said.
The opposition of Nitish Kumar’s stand came from none else but his namesake Nitish Kumar, a farmer of Darveshpura village in chief minister’s Nalanda district. He shot into the limelight a few months ago with record production of potatoes.
This achievement was highlighted all over the country and abroad. But he had no one by his side when he was forced to go for distress sale of the same potato at Warsaliganj market in neighbouring Nawada district.
“I need capital for next round of harvest. I was also saddened to learn when the middleman who purchased my product sold the potatoes at double the price he had paid to me,” Nitish was quoted in The Telegraph recently.
He appeared happy over Manmohan Singh government’s decision on FDI. But he felt sad when he learnt that the NDA government in Bihar will not allow any FDI in the state.
He is of the opinion that “coming of big players would have given us a chance to deal directly with the procurers as such stores buy stuff directly from farmers.”
But he is not alone. Farmers all over the state holds similar view. “Why is Bihar chief minister so strongly opposing it when the big outlets can not be opened in any city, but Patna, which alone has the population of over one million. He should at least allow the big players to come and purchase from farmers at better rate and thus help the farmers,” said Akhlaque Ahmed of Dumaria block of Gaya district.
Questions are being asked about the Nitish government’s tall claims of agriculture roadmap and rainbow revolution. How can all this change be possible when the government is not allowing farmers to avail the opportunity of having easy access to organised market players who deal with farmers transparently.
After all griculture is fast becoming unproductive because of absence of renumerative price and there is general feeling among the farmers that the condition of Bihar has deteriorated sharply though Nitish talks of road map.
Farmers are of the opinion that since they are unable to articulate their problems the urban-centric traders get much better opportunity in the media.
There is also a feeling in a section of people that the fear of foreign investments has greatly been exaggerated. “The coming of malls and big bazars has not affected small traders in Patna. They continue to exist and run their business. So why this so much noise against FDI,” asked Kusum, a housewife, while talking to BiharTimes. “Let the other model come to reduce the role of middleman,” she further added.
If FDI has come in all the sectors, even media, what is wrong in multi-brand retail sector. After all the BJP too has been in favour of the foreign investment.
A farmer, who has land in Samastipur district gave the example of how the perishable items, like fruits, get destroyed because of the absence of infrastructure in Bihar. Now after the advent of big players the lichi growers are getting good price, he added.
But Digambar Mishra Diwakar, the director of A N Sinha Institute, Patna, holds a totally differet view. His plea is that the big investors come slowly. They first offer lollipop, but gradually they implement their plan. They are not going to serve long term interest. The foreign brands have done so elsewhere too, he added.