“It is natural that any farmers’ organisation will have 1,000-2,000 farmers as members. It is necessary for them to do something unusual so that they get publicity in the media,” said Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.
Farmers of Madhya Pradesh on 1st June called for the 10-day strike to mark one year of Mandsaur killings. In the protest, they are asking for their age-old demand for better price of their products.
Last year on 6th June farmers were demonstrating for better price of their production and farm loan waiver when they were gunned down. Hindustan Times reported the incident last year as At least five farmers were killed and several injured in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district on Tuesday when police fired on protesters demanding better prices in the drought-ravaged region that recorded a farm suicide every five hours in 2016-17.
This year, however, farmers have chosen a different path to demonstrate their anger against the government attitude towards the worsening agrarian crisis. Farmers of Madhya Pradesh have decided to shut down the supply of milk, vegetables and other essential farm-produced goods. The demonstration is coordinated by Rashtriya Kisan Magasangh (RKM) with local leaders in neighbouring states as well. The protest is active in neighbouring states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Yes, union minister is right in his analysis, farmers desperately need nation’s attention since the government has refused to address the decade-old pathetic agricultural condition of the country.
Yogendra Yadav in an interview to Catch News said, “There are the economic and ecological reasons. The former has made farming a non-viable and loss-making proposition because crop prices have fallen while input prices have shot up exponentially. Now farmers can’t handle bad monsoons which is leading to suicides across the country.”
After the liberalisation Privatisation and Globalisation 1991, India witnessed a tremendous growth rate in its economy but unfortunately, agriculture sector was left far behind. If we believe NITI AYOG, it says, “In absolute terms, cultivation generated annual income of Rs. 36,938 and livestock provided Rs. 9,176, per agricultural household.”
Imagine how would have farmers managing their agricultural cost with this income in hand? Irrigation cost is continuously shooting up with the depleting underground water and increasing diesel price.
With the exposure of high yield seeds in the market, farmers no longer have their own seeds and every year they are forced to buy seeds from the market where hardly any regulations work. Price of pesticides and manpower is too exponentially increasing which left farmers with empty hands. Farmers are unable to match their income with the money they invest in production even if they observe an increment in productivity. The policy of minimum supporting price (MSP) was to support farmers, but that is applicable to very few crops and still very low to generate income.
Remember, Indian agriculture largely depends upon weather and a nominal dip in monsoon turns an average farmer family into a debt-ridden household.
Addressing audience at ‘International Conference on Governance for the Margins’, P Sainath, senior journalist and author said, “The country is in the middle of an agrarian crisis as we have been silently watching the plight of millions of farmers worsening by the day for nearly 20 years.” He further said, “The real crisis is that we are not ready to accept that we are in the middle of an agrarian crisis,” Hindustan Times reported.
The Indian government has been thoroughly ignorant towards the plight of peasants. Forget long term or short term infrastructural needs in agriculture, the government has failed in even resolving the issue of debt and MSP. Yogendra Yadav in the same interview said, “Government’s own statistics claim that only 6% of the farmers are able to sell their produce at MSP while the rest are all dependent on market forces. The Prime Minister Bima Yojna does not protect all farmers, therefore, there is a need general insurance for all farmers to protect them from the vagaries of this weather and pests.”
India has seen several major protests in last couple of years where farmers in large number demonstrated against the government. They also received support from civil society but the government keeps calling it propaganda and useless.
This year alone two major protests have taken place which shook the nation. On March 12 more than 30 thousand farmers with their bare feet walk for 180 kilometers. Farmers of Maharashtra marched into the capital to just get heard. Barefoot march attracts the national as well as international media.
Soon after the Mumbai protest, farmers of Himachal hit the streets. Thousands of peasants on 3rd April demonstrated against the government policy of forced eviction from their land.
The third big protest of this year is already going on asking government to bring loan wavering policy and increase the MSP.
When Narendra Modi led NDA took over the decade old UPA government, Prime Minister Modi promised to double the income of farmers. However, contrary to it agrarian distress now forcing farmers to leave their farm and hit the ground. India is in the middle of the agrarian crisis and farmers gearing themselves for the revolt.
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