11 August 2015
The Central Government is not serious towards the problems of farmers. If the problems are not resolved, we will block all highways coming to Delhi on 30 September 2015, Lakhowal
Farmers unions affiliated with the All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM) met today at the Punjab Bhawan in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Shri Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, President Bhartiya Kissan Union, Punjab. During this meeting, farmer leaders intensely discussed the current burning issues which included, the Land Acquisition Bill, NDA government position on the WTO and the FTAs with Australia, New Zealand and other agri-exporter countries, the government push for commercial release of genetically engineered Mustard, the increasing farmers suicides, the Shanta Kumar High Level Committee report for restructuring FCI, and others. The farmer suicides in India are continuing despite many promises by the Narendra Modi before the election that he would work for the Indian farmers. However after becoming Prime Minister, he expressed no concern for agrarian crisis and the continuing farmer suicides. During NDA Government since May 2014, several thousand farmers have committed suicide including hundreds of sugarcane growers due to non-payment of their long-standing dues.
In this meeting, farmers’ leaders focused on some key issues which are of great concern and would like to make the following demands to express their frustration with these government agrarian policies. These are:
- Completely Withdraw Land Acquisition Bill 2015: Farmer leaders are not very satisfied with the NDA government recent decision to drop some of amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, and to bring back the crucial clauses related to consent of affected families and social impact assessment (SIA). But they demand a total withdrawal of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill 2015. The AICCFM farmers also demand effective implementation of the 2013 Act on Land Acquisition.
- Provide Remunerative Price for Farmers Produce and Implement C2+50: Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), in its manifesto (2014) announced to provide remunerative price for farmers produce and to implement Swaminathan Report’s (2005) recommendation to provide MSP based on Cost of production (C2) plus 50% as premium as the procurement price for 23 crops announced every year. Despite coming into power, NDA government has made No attempt to implement Swaminathan report and except pulses, no substantial increase was made in the MSP of cereals, oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane announced in 2014-15 and 2015-16. We demand from the NDA government to fulfil its commitment as announced in its manifesto and provide remunerative price for farmers produce.
- Farmers Reject Shanta Kumar High Level Committee Report and Recommendation on Restructuring FCI: Farmer organisations are quite outraged at the anti-farmer and anti-food security recommendations of the High Level Committee (HCL) on restructuring of Food Corporation of India (FCI). Going against their promise made in the Party election manifesto, which favoured universal food security, the recommendations of HCL completely revered the BJP’s position. The report recommends FCI to step out of procurement operations as well as to dilute the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to reduce its coverage from present 67% to 40% which would be disastrous not only for the livelihood of millions of farmers but will affect food security of the millions of India’s landless, poor and destitute. And in order to finish the MSP system, this committee recommends bringing in the cash transfer in the food security programme.
- Write off all farm loans: Today the increasing farmer suicide indicate that Indian farmers are still under huge loan burden from institutional sources and private moneylenders. Farmer leaders demanded that the NDA government must write off all institutional loans of farmers. As a first step, we urge the government to instruct Banks not send notices to farmers for loan recovery, which is the key instigator for large number of farmer suicides in Karnataka and other states. The Government must also instruct public Banks and Cooperatives banks to give fresh loans to farmers at 0% interest.
- Institute Government Policy to compensate loss due to Natural Calamity: Farmers leaders demanded that the NDA government bring in a Union Policy to compensate farmers for the crop loss due to natural calamity. There should be a clear-cut provision for irrigated and non-irrigated farmers for compensation. The Government must also institute an Emergency Fund to provide compensation to farmers on an urgent basis in case of crop loss due to natural calamities, like floods, heavy rains and drought.
- No Trade Liberalization in Agriculture: The NDA government Must not allow any trade liberalization in agricultural goods through WTO or FTAs. In view of the forthcoming Nairobi Ministerial in December 2015, we urge the Indian government to must seek a permanent solution on the food security issue in the WTO and never succumb to the US pressure to give up our meagre subsidies for Public Stockholding for nation’s food security programme. We also urge the government to put counter pressure on the developed countries to cut down their agricultural subsidies which is destroying agriculture and ruining the livelihood of farmers in India and other developing countries. Due to the huge loss of Indian farmers by imports of subsidised agricultural goods from developed countries, we therefore demand from Indian government to move a proposal to remove the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) from the WTO Agreement. Farmers also demand that agriculture related provisions from all FTAs negotiated by the Indian government must be dropped. India must increase import duties on cereals, sugar, cotton, edible oils and pulses to save our farmers from excessive imports of these commodities.
- Institute Farmers Pay Commission: Farmers demanded from the NDA government to institute a Farmers Minimum Income Guarantee Commission to provide income support to farmers. Through this commission, government must ensure income to farmers, which is equal to the salary of a 4th Grade government employees, to help them live a dignified life.
- NO GMOs: The Farmers unions like to remind the NDA government to fulfil their promise made in their manifesto not to allow field trials, commercialisation or import of any Genetically Engineered seeds or crops or trees. We oppose any attempt by the government to commercialise the genetically engineered mustard developed by the Delhi University. We also urge the NDDB to immediately stop all funding for the development and promotion of GM mustard.
- Pay Arrears to Sugarcane Farmers: The sugarcane farmers have not received their arrears for last two years. The farmers’ leaders demanded that instead of forcing sugar industries to pay to farmers, the government instead pay all arrears due to sugarcane farmers immediately and collect the same from the industries.
Farmer leaders are disgruntled with the way the NDA government is dealing with the agrarian issues. All achievements made in last several decades in the interest of Indian farmers have been undone in last 15 months of NDA rule. Therefore farmer unions associated with All India Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements decided to ORGANISE a TOTAL BLOCADE of DELHI in SEPTEMBER 2015.
Ch. Rakesh Tikait, National Spokesman,BKU
Yudhvir Singh General Secretary, AICCFM
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, State President, BKU Punjab
KS Puttanaiah (MLA),Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, Karnataka
Vijender Singh BKU, Haryana
K. Sella Mutthu,President, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
KT GangadharKarnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha
Ratan Singh Mann BKU President Haryana
Rajvir Singh BKU, NCR
Nallagounder,Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi,Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
Virendra Dagar State President, BKU Haryana