Farmers urged to come under one umbrella

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, January 29: | Updated: Jan 31 2008, 01:33am hrs
The former Union agriculture minister and the CPI leader, Chaturanan Mishra urged the farmers' organizations affiliated to different political parties in country to come under one platform to fight for the just cause.

"I am gravely concerned over the rising incidence of suicides among farmers and price rise of essential commodities. There is something wrong in the system which needs to be rectified and for this the farmers' organization of all political parties should come under one umbrella to fight for the right cause," he said while delivering his keynote address at a national seminar on emerging agriculture scenario and Indian farmers on Tuesday.

The seminar was organized by Bharatiya Krishak Samaj.

The conference passed a resolution demanding hike in the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy to at least Rs 1000 per quintal and that of paddy and that of wheat to at least Rs 1600 per quintal. It criticised the wheat imports done by the government at higher prices in 2006 and 2007, when ample wheat was available in the country. The government should have purchased wheat from farmers by raising the MSP, instead of buying wheat in the global market at higher prices, it said

Inaugurating the conference, the director of Russian Centre for Science and Culture, Dr Sergey V Cherkas said that 2008 is the Year of Russia in India, being celebrated to mark the 60 th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. It was a good gesture to begin the celebration with a farmers' conclave, he said

Expressing concerns over the government's apathy towards the increasing incidences of suicides committed by farmers, the Bharatiya Krishak Samaj president, Krishan Bir Chaudhary demanded reversal of the anti-farmer policies.

The deputy director (science and technology) of RCSC, Sergey Esaev said that in Russia 20% of the people were engaged in farming. He said that government's assistances were necessary in all countries for agriculture. He expressed concern over rising global food prices.

The Forward Block leader and Member of Parliament, Debabrat Biswas opposed the sale of farm lands for SEZs at paltry prices and on the contrary suggested setting up of exclusive zones for farmers' cooperative, backed by incentives from the government. He called for a land use policy.

Former Congress MP Mr Harikesh Bahadur said that said banks were not doing a favour by extending credit to farmers as they were extracting more than they give as loans to farmers. Former Union minister for SSIs, Mr Sanpriya Gautam alleged that chemical agriculture has eroded the health of the soil.

The seminar called for a ban on sale of farmlands for setting up of SEZs or for any profit-making corporate venture. Rather exclusive zones for farmer's cooperatives should be set up, backed by incentives, for boosting food security.

The resolution demanded that the government give subsidy directly to farmers instead of routing it through the industry.

The resolution also demanded incorporation of farmer-friendly clauses in the proposed Seed Bill as suggested by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture.

The resolution criticized the government for opening the doors to the corporate houses and multinationals in Indian agriculture and in the retail chains as this would lead to greater exploitation of farmers. The resolution also called for a ban on futures trading in agro commodities.

The resolution also demanded a ban on genetically modified crops. The farmers have suffered huge losses on account of Bt cotton cultivation.

The resolution called upon the government to remain firm at the WTO negotiations in the interests of the farmers in the developing countries. The developed countries should drastically cut their farm subsidies and tariffs as a pre-condition for future negotiations. "We hear that Britain and France has recently proposed that India should be a member of G-8. G-8 is a grouping of developed countries and the government before taking any decision should clarify whether it would continue to fight for the poor small and marginal farmers in the WTO or behave in the interests of the European Union and the US ," the resolution said.