08 December 2023, New Delhi: The Agri Inputs sector including the Agrochemical, Fertilizers, and Seed industries in Maharashtra are very concerned due to the Legislative Assembly Bill No. 40, 41, 42, 43 & 44 of 2023 which unfairly propose to introduce laws to criminalize Agri Inputs industries by amending Central Acts and making provisions to compensate farmers for crop failures by introducing the “Maharashtra Payment of Compensation to Farmers Act 2023” for losses caused due to adulterated, non-standard or misbranded Seeds, Fertilisers and Insecticides. The proposals under the Bills puts all liabilities upon manufacturers but fails to account for situations where a liability rises due to factors beyond the control of manufacturers of agri inputs.
Pradip Dave, President, Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) said, “Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Bills propose to introduce new laws concerning Agri Inputs industries including Agrochemical Industry to criminalize Agri Inputs business in the state, with unfair prosecutions and jail terms without recourse.”
He mentioned, “The State Government proposed to amend Section 29 of Insecticides Act 1968; Essential Commodities Act, Seeds Act and Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Dangerous persons, Video Pirates, Sand Smugglers and Persons engaged in Black-marketing of Essential Commodities Act, 1981 to criminalize the Agri Inputs business in the state and inclusion of prosecution and imprisonment terms without provisions for recourse due to ‘cognizable and nonbailable’ provisions proposed in the Bills.”
The Agri Inputs manufacturers in the state fear that the proposed new laws and amendments to the existing central Acts can lead to unfair punishments compelling the manufacturers to move out of Maharashtra to neighboring states. Fear of punishments will stop manufacturers and distributors from even selling pesticides and other agri inputs in Maharashtra, impacting the availability of agri inputs resulting in crop losses and crop damages affecting the livelihood of Farmers in the state.
Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) the national association representing the Agrochemical industry in India, under the leadership of its President Mr. Pradip Dave, has submitted Memorandum to the Joint Committee of Houses of Maharashtra Legislature formed under the chairmanship of Mr. Dhananjay Munde, Maharashtra’s Minister of Agriculture, appealing to re-visit the proposals made under the Bills.
The proposed amendments indiscriminately seek to make many offenses under the Insecticides Act, 1968; Seeds Act, and Essential Commodities Act ‘cognizable and non-bailable’ irrespective of the gravity of the offenses. Such provisions, if implemented would lead to unfair prosecutions of genuine manufacturers, who have been working in the state in last more than 4 decades supplying quality Insecticides, Seeds, and Fertilisers to Farmers.
As far as the Pesticide industry is concerned, overall pesticide failures in India including Maharashtra are less than 2.5% and even this percentage of sample failures has reasons of poor sampling methods of State Govt. labs due to lack of advanced labs. This proves that there is no situation at ground level that demands any serious action. Similar is the situation concerning Fertilisers and Seeds.
The Bill unjustifiably and unfairly proposes amendments to the MPDA Act of 1981 proposing to bring Seeds, Fertilisers, and Pesticide manufacturers and sellers on par with dangerous persons like Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, etc.
Mr. Dave mentioned, “Such steps by Maharashtra Government is dangerous and can have a damaging impact on industries and Farming sector, especially when Central Government has taken steps for decriminalization of over 42 Acts, to encourage ease of doing business.”
PMFAI has appealed to the Government of Maharashtra to withdraw the proposals made under the five bills and adopt methods to counter and penalize unscrupulous and spurious inputs suppliers in consultation with industry associations representing Agri Inputs industries and other stakeholders.
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