The struggles and achievements of Maharashtra farmers


The successful Kisan rally helped out the cause and the Maharashtra State Government has promised to address all the issues in a time bound manner.  Amid a rising wave of sympathy for protesting farmers, increased media glare and pressure exerted by rival parties, the government yielded to all the demands. So it is a leg breakthrough after 180 km walk for the farmers coming from far off places. The significant success was achieved in extension in loan waiver eligibility from June 30, 2016 by a year. It is also agreed that the transfer of forest land to tribal cultivators in six months time. It is notable that those farmers with pending loans from 2001 are now going to benefit in this deal. The bright aspect is the land acquisition for bullet train and Mumbai-Nagpur E-way plans going through mutual consent. Thus the Kisan rally proved a pin pointer to the government and the results are forthcoming.

This is indeed commendable. The farmers showed a new road for protesting without creating any chaos and being disciplined and the Government of Maharashtra didn’t act on ego but on reality. Let this usher in a road to build modern India. It is pathetic that one pledges mere ‘Brands’ to seek loan to flee, whereas, the other one who pledges his sweat and toil, is left high and dry, being forced to pay back loans. Again, one holding such ‘Brands’ is given audience by VIPs and, on the other hand, the toilers are left in the lurch on the roads. I have tears in my eyes after reading this, when we are not able to protect the rights of our farmers. Farmers act of parading their strength streets to demand their rights show the pathetic state of government. I think this is only the beginning and I am sure we are going to witness many such incidents in the future. Finally, a swarm of thousands of farmers, who marched from Nashik to Mumbai by foot covering hundreds of kilometers for resolving their grievances and demands have be given assurance by Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis for fulfilling their genuine grievances in six months by the Maharashtra Government of BJP. Let us watch and wait. But the main question arises, who will give shelters, food and other adequate facilities during these six months.

Viewing farmers’ distress on terms like loan waiver is simplistic, though meeting this demand may act as an interim palliative. Structural problems are aggravating with steady decline in the size of land parcels with successive inheritance. Most farmers have reduced to the status of watchmen of their small parcel and youngsters are refusing to remain in farming. Infrastructure at public and individual level is deficient. Incomes in villages, farm as well as non-farm, are not increasing relative to other incomes in the country and relative poverty is worsening despite increase in incomes all across. Non-farm activity has to be structurally focused on and the necessary physical and human infrastructure has to be arranged with capital and human skills.

Urbanites are not against farmers. Those who think in rational terms do not think that there is any conflict of interest between small and medium farmers and ordinary residents of cities/towns. Generally, we use farmers and their occasional agitations to grab power and then do nothing for farmers. This has happened for years and still such agitations go on. In Maharashtra, the farmers are routinely exploited by Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs), which are totally biased. Farmers should unite and be able to sell their produce in a market place of their choice, outside markets of APMCs and make their deals more opaque. Farming can be profitable if farmers stand on their own legs, without too much government help. In fact, farmers have to help themselves by having their own organisations, which should provide them technical advice, farming tips, market information and marketing support whenever needed. This proves if the crowd is big and huge, the demands can be met and a 6 month road map can be made immediately.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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