Farmers in Maharashtra are firm about resorting to an indefinite agitation from June 1. The decision was taken at a state level meet of farmers held at Aurangabad after a group of farmers met chief minister Devedra Fadnavis and state opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Tuesday. Several groups have been holding ‘Gram Sabhas’ across the state to garner support from farmers. Farmers from Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and 20 districts reiterated their decision to go on strike from June 1 by cutting supply of milk and vegetables to cities like Mumbai and Pune. Their demands include farm loan waiver and a minimum support price for crops by June 1. The coordination committee of 38 farmer organisations met in Aurangabad on Wednesday and clarified that they were going to protest.
“On Wednesday, we decided to step up the protest against the government in phases. In the first phase, we will cut off supply of vegetables and milk to cities like Mumbai and Pune,” Dhananjay Dhorde Patil, member of the coordinating committee said. The meeting held in Aurangabad was attended by farmers from 20 districts of Maharashtra including Jalna, Beed, Nashik, Solapur, Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Buldhana, Ahmednagar and Washim.
Instead of reaching out to organisations, farmer groups in Ahmednagar and Auragabad regions have decided to come together and tap grassroot level farmers across the state. According to Dhananjay Dhorde Patil, several farmer organisations from the state including Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Raghunathdada led Shetkari Sanghatana had expressed support for the agitation.
“We have decided to give the government till May 30 and if positive action is taken then the actual agitation shall begin at the start of the Kharif season in June when farmers will produce only for their consumption and not for the market. They also plan 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,” he said.
Other demands include free power supply to agricultural pumps, interest-free loans, MSP with 50% rise on the cost of the production. Raju Shetty’s Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana is holding a ‘Atma Klesh Pada Yatra’ from May 22 to May 30 from Pune to Mumbai to draw the attention of the government to farmer issues seeking a farm loan waiver for farmers of the state.
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. Maharashtra has reported 852 farmers’ suicides in the four months between January to April this year, according to government data.