On May 1, International Workers’ Day, which also happens to be Maharashtra Day, farmers across the state are planning to hold ‘gram sabhas’ (village meets) to pass resolutions seeking farm loan waiver. This is part of the strategy decided by farmers who are planning an indefinite agitation from June 1 to draw the attention of the government to their issues and demand better prices for their produce. Instead of tapping farmer organisations, farmer groups in Ahmednagar and Aurangabad regions have decided to come together and tap grassroots-level farmers for the agitation demanding better prices for their produce.
According to Dhananjay Dhorde Patil, one of the key coordinators of the agitation, the response from farmers across the state to the agitation call has been massive. For a start, farmers will hold gram sabhas in Jalna, Nashik, Aurangabad, Beed, Pune, Ahmednagar, Solapur and Parbhani, pass resolutions seeking loan waivers and submit these to the respective tehsils, he said. The plans is to ensure that no farm produce including, fruits, vegetables and dairy products reach the markets.
“We have decided to give the government time till May 30 and if positive action is taken then the actual agitation shall begin at the start of the kharif season in June where farmers will produce only for their consumption and not for the market,” he said.
Patil pointed out that although several farmers organisations and political parties have decided to fight for farmers’ rights and seek loan waivers, they have decided to keep the movement apolitical.
Farmers have not been getting good prices and are burdened by debt leading to farmer suicides, he said. Farmers in Maharashtra have faced two consecutive droughts and the recent unseasonal showers have damaged yield in parts of Marathwada. With 3,030 cases, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of farmer suicides in the country (37.8%). The plan is to stop supply of food grains, cereals, fruits and milk to markets. The farmers’ demands include loan waiver, free electricity, appropriate price for their produce, grant for irrigation and higher price for milk.