Agriculture secretary: Talks with farmers can’t take place by the roadside

By Pramod Kumar Jha
New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS)
The Union government says it is ready for a dialogue with farmers protesting against the new farm laws, but a discussion can’t take place by the roadside.
Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, who is also looking after Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, says farmers have already been invited for talks and every issue can be resolved through a dialogue. So, there is no real basis for taking out protest marches.
The food and agriculture secretary said the farmers have been invited by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar for the second round of talks on December 3. Before this, farmer leaders had agreed to continue the talks in a meeting with Tomar on November 13.
In a special interview to IANS, Pandey said: “We have already sent an invitation for talks to the farmers during the discussions on November 13. At that time, they had agreed upon continuing the dialogue and trying to find a solution. So, there is no basis for taking out protest marches.”
Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been marching to Delhi with the demand to roll back the farm laws introduced by the Centre.
The new farm laws have been introduced keeping in mind the best interests of the farmers, said Pandey. “Still, if farmers have any further doubts, these can only be resolved through a dialogue. But a dialogue can only happen by sitting across the table since discussions cannot take place by the roadside.”
The protesting farmers are seeking a guarantee on the minimum support prices (MSP). About this, Pandey said till the time the public distribution system is in existence, the government has to make purchases on the basis of the MSP. So foodgrains will continue to be procured at the MSP.
Pandey said in Punjab, where doubts are being raised about procurement at MSP, record procurement of paddy to the tune of 203 lakh tonnes has already been made. He claimed the quantity of paddy procurement in Punjab is unprecedented this time round.

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