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Long march highlights country’s agrarian crisis: Kishor Tiwari

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The overwhelming response to the farmers long march has once again brought to the fore the agrarian crisis currently on in the country, Kishor Tiwari, farm activist and chairman of the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission said.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he urged the government to have a relook at its agrarian programmes in order to mitigate the distress of farmers.

Drawing attention to what he called disturbing facts, Tiwari stated that despite schemes like loan waiver, farm credit, irrigation and electricity supply to pump sets, an “unaccountable and hostile” bureaucracy was failing to provide relief to farmers.

He said that stringent norms introduced by the bureaucracy was keeping eligible farmers out of the relief network.

Faulty policies of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and other financial institutions had also failed to keep to the deadline laid down by the government for these schemes, he said.

He said in the letter that these factors were creating an atmosphere of no-confidence among farmers.

He said that despite the government’s announcement of relief to five million cotton cultivators whose crops had been damaged by pink bollworms, it was being denied by agencies like the NDRF as well as seed and crop insurance firms.

“This year the state has implemented a mega agricultural debt waiver and debt relief scheme for the benefit of around 6 million farmers but as the state has no direct control over the functioning of PSU banks, it failed to give timely and sufficient credit to debt-ridden farmers,” said Tiwari.

He stated that all major crops, like cotton, soyabean, pulses and paddy were being sold at prices lower than the stipulated Minimum Support Price due to stringent norms laid down by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) and the Cotton Corporation of India. He said the government’s intervention in this matter was “poor”.

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