Farmers in Madhya Pradesh and several states have launched a 10-day-long "Gaon bandh" as part of a nationwide strike to press for their demands. So far, the agitation has not affected normal life in these states but it is likely to hit the supply of essential items like milk and vegetables in the days to come.
While the farmers of the country are adamant that during these 10 days they will not supply farm produce such as vegetables and milk to the cities, on the other hand, the government has also made efforts to stop it.
News of farmers' strike is coming from several parts of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtra. Around 130 farming organizations are participating in the campaign under the umbrella leadership of the Rashtriya Kisa Mahasangh. Being June 6th the anniversary of Mandsaur firing incident and Madhya Pradesh assembly elections due this year political drama has intensified. Farmers are asking for complete loan waiver, higher minimum support price ie. at least 50% higher than the total cost of production and pension according to the 7th Pay Commission for farmers more than 55 years of age (about 18 thousand rupees per month).
Farmers 10 day long nationwide protest; spill milk on roads in #Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra state @htTweets@HTMumbai @AgriGoI @rajushetti @advpyog #FarmerProtest #FarmersStrike #pune pic.twitter.com/8o4V6jdHz7— Deshpande Shrinivas (@deshpandeshrini) June 2, 2018
Businessmen will realise the might of farmers
Kedar Sirohi, the core member of the aam kisaan union active in Madhya Pradesh, told 'Gaon connection' on the phone, "In these 10 days neither the farmers will send anything out of the village, nor will they buy anything from the market. This Gaon bandh will encourage self-reliance of rural India and eventually, village markets will develop. So far, big MNCs do not give enough importance to billion rupee village market, but with this shutdown, they will also understand the power of rural economy. Businessmen will understand the importance of the farmer. "
also read this: Madhya Pradesh farmers state set to agitate over garlic prices
Farmers were made to sign bonds
Madhya Pradesh, which has about 55 thousand villages, is the centre of the movement. The government has cancelled the holidays of police personnel. Hundreds of farmers are made to sign bonds of 20-20 thousand rupees, that they will not participate in agitation. Simultaneously, there are rumours that police department is arranging thousands of wooden sticks or lathis and government is set to impose essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) act on the supply of milk. Farmers organizations are ready to oppose it.
Kedar Sirohi says, "The government wants to frighten the farmers, but they do not understand that eventually, they will stop getting scared. It does matter government is buying lathi or guns. Secondly, in a democratic country farmer is free to sell his produce where ever he wants. There is no point in stopping us when we ourselves are not entering cities. Government is using police, agriculture and revenue department and Anganwadi activists to stop the movement but the voice of farmers will no longer be muffled.
This is the second consecutive year when farmers are agitating in Madhya Pradesh. These are symptoms of upcoming challenges for Chief Minister Shivraj Chauhan, the fifth time Krishi Karmanya award winner.
Madhya Pradesh has performed exceptionally well in agricultural production. Madhya Pradesh has left behind Punjab-Haryana in terms of wheat production, in recent years per hectare, wheat production is increasing consecutively. Last year 3115 kg per hectare wheat was produced. The improved arrangement of irrigation, cheap loans and market facilities have affected the production of gram, wheat, soybean, onion, garlic and pulses positively in Madhya Pradesh.
This record-breaking production ultimately broke the back of farmers. Prices of agriculture produce crashed and in absence of profitable rates onion, garlic, potatoes, and tomato were thrown on the streets or fed to the animals. There were incidents when the farmers went to sell their products in the market and died to wait for a fair price.
Agricultural experts believe that the trend of farming in Madhya Pradesh started changing in the days of Digvijay Singh and in Shivraj's government, it was at its extreme. But the excess production proved a disaster for the farmers and headache for the government. According to senior journalist Narender Singh, there are two reasons for this phenomenon: farmer not getting the right value of his produce, and secondly political activism of Congress to get back its lost political land.
Traders and businessmen are reaping benefits
Narendra Kumar Singh, further states, "Madhya Pradesh is a land of small and marginal farmers and tribals. The farmers are saying that the big plans which the government initiated benefited the big traders and companies. Insurance companies benefited more than farmers, Bhavantar Yojna made traders and merchants wealthy." He further said, "From the day the Bharatvanti Yojana came into effect, prices of many crops crashed in the Mandis. There is no control over merchants because they are a staunch supporter of BJP, this had increased troubles for the Shivraj Government."
For the last several years, Shivraj Singh Chauhan is also continuously talking about issues of farmers. NK Singh explains the meaning and statement of Shivraj given three-four days earlier. He says, "Shivraj Singh said that the traders are exploiting farmers by bringing goods from other states in Madhya Pradesh. Action will be taken against such businessmen. In Madhya Pradesh bonus and benefits of other schemes are given along with MSP. These benefits are being taken away by the businessmen." Explaining the attitude of Congress in context with the farmer's agitation, he says, "Shivraj's voters are farmers, women and urban poor... They were all used to be core voters of Congress. Congress is now busy bringing back their lost political land. Digvijay Singh's march and Rahul Gandhi's rally in Mandsaur is part of the same exercise. Digvijay Singh has started his Ekta Yatra from Ram Raja temple in Orchha from May 31, the purpose of this visit is being told to link the Congress worker. While Rahul Gandhi's rally is proposed on the anniversary of Mandsaur firing.also read this: India's foodgrain estimates go up; pulse imports slower on higher production
Anniversary of Mandsaur firing
Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti' formed after Mandsaur firing on 6th June 2017 is organizing Kisan Smriti Divas on June 6th. These events will be held throughout the country. But for the time being, Shivraj Chauhan's biggest headaches is Gaon Bandh or village shutdown organised countrywide by Rashtriya Kisan Sangathan. Many farmers, including Shivkumar Sharma (Kakka) and Kedar Shankar Sirohi, are flexing their muscles. Farmers organizations have organised community meetings or Chaupals in villages to make the movement effective, while social media is also used more effectively.
Effective use of social media
Bhagwan Meena, an agriculture economist associated with the active Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh points out, "We were active on WhatsApp for several months, and got the full benefit. Besides, many young farmers are putting their points through Facebook and Twitter. We are using 70 percent more social media than last year's movement, and its good effect will be seen in the movement. " Aam Kisan Union has appealed farmers to protest peacefully. Along with this, we have also promised to provide vegetables and milk to the needy.
Farmers will do business on their own terms
Bhagwaan Meena says, "This movement is of the farmers and the farmers have been trained to seek no political advantage of this. Farmers will protest peacefully, no person will be harmed. Last time vegetable and milk were thrown in many places, this time it will be kept in the villages. It will be provided to the needy ones." Farmers organizations have decided that they will not supply their items in the city, but if the people from the city approach them to buy milk or vegetables they can get them on rates fixed by farmers.