In the cover story of The Caravan’s March 2021 issue, “Mandi, Market and Modi,” Hartosh Singh Bal reported about the Indian government’s efforts to remake India’s agricultural economy for large private players. In the following excerpt from the story, Bal traces the infrastructure that the Adani group have already built to store, transport and market agricultural produce.
There has been considerable conversation around what the entry of private buyers in procurement will mean for the agricultural economy. The arguments made for direct purchases by the Food Corporation of India apply for any such buyer. The very fact that the government expects these players to fund operations across the state for meaningful private purchase would suggest it is encouraging the entry of very large private players.
This had led to farmers’ openly expressing apprehensions about the entry of the Adani and Reliance groups into agricultural purchase. Both groups were quick to disassociate themselves from the farm laws. “We do not own any food grains procured from farmers, and are in no way connected to the pricing of grains,” the Adani group clarified.
The clarification did nothing to address the question of whether the group stands to benefit once the new laws are in operation. Given the nature of the farm laws, it is a straightforward conclusion that the Adani Group is well positioned to take advantage of them. This was something the group’s clarification itself made clear, where it stated that the Adani Group has been “in the business of developing and operating Grain Silos” for FCI since 2005. The clarification also added that private rail lines used to transport grain to storage areas across the country were part of the tender requirements floated by the FCI.
The Adani Group already has the infrastructure in place to store and transport foodgrain. During the height of the pandemic, the group released a press statement: