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Farmers’ agitation: Stir enters second day, vegetable prices surge over dwindling supplies


JUNE 2, 2018

Farmers agitation at Nashik collector office on Friday. (Express Photo by Mayur Bargaje)

Demanding remunerative prices for their produce, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and farm loan waivers among other things, farmers across the country continued their agitation Saturday as part of a 10-day long nationwide strike.

In the wake of the dwindling fresh supplies of farm produce in mandis, vegetable prices at various cities in Punjab and Haryana soared even as the farmers dumped vegetables, milk on roads and blocked supplies to cities. On Friday, agitating farmers stopped supply of vegetables, fruits, milk and other items to various cities against the alleged anti-farmer policies of the Centre.

Though the impact of farmers’ stir on price of farm commodities was not visible yesterday, the retail prices of vegetables in several cities climbed in the range of Rs 10-20 per kg on the second day, forcing consumers in cities to pay more for buying vegetables. 

Called by the All India Kisan Mahasangh, the strike is being staged in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan among other states, disrupting the transport and the supply of essential goods across multiple markets in various states.

The All India Kisan Mahasangh, an umbrella body of 110 farmers’ organisations across India, announced on April 30 that it will block the supply of farm products such as grains, vegetables and milk across the country to attract government’s attention towards the rampant agrarian crisis and farmer distress.

“All milk dairies in the Nashik district are closed and collection centres for milk has been affected. Agitating farmers poured milk on the roads at Visapur in Yeola taluka in the morning today. Arrival of vegetables at APMC is also low,” Raju Desale, working president of the All India Kisan Sabha.

Agriculture secretary requests banks to raise lending to farm sector

Advocating that farmer loans seldom turn into non-performing assets (NPA) as compared to other known offenders, Agriculture Secretary SK Pattanayak on Saturday encouraged the banks to increase their exposure to the farm sector. “One particular painful aspect is that credit to FPOs (Farmers Producer Organisations) are not forthcoming… banks are themselves passing through a difficult time now. Still, I can say to banks’ top echelons that farmers are not known to make their loan NPA. Please trust them. Please give them. They will strengthen you banks,” Pattanayak was quoted as saying by PTI.

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh attacks Center over farmer protests

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday stated that the ongoing protest by farmers is a “sign of their desperation in the face of the wrongs being perpetrated on them by the central government.” Singh remarked that the farming community in the country is facing a serious serious crisis due to the “indifferent” attitude of the BJP government.

The Punjab CM noted that the central government had ‘failed’ to provide any relief to the farmer’s suffering from the agrarian crisis which was a result of the ‘antagonistic policies’ of the BJP-led central government.

Singh further said that the farmers were committing suicide due to their mounting debt burdens as agriculture is no longer financially viable occupation, considering the inadequate MSP.  He also pointed out that the implementation of Swaminathan Commission report was the only impactful and long-term solution to the agrarian crisis in the country.

Talking about the failure of the central government in implementing the Swaminathan commission’s recommendations,  CPI National Secretary Atul Kumar Anjan had earlier said that BJP government, despite having the necessary support from other political parties, BJP doesn’t have the intention to implement the recommendations. “The government is bound by corporate lobbies who want a great portion of the GDP to come from the service sector because it’s an instant money-making segment whereas capital investment in agriculture yields slow results,” he told indianexpress.com.