Farmers of India have been protesting for more than three months now. Today is the 114th day of the ongoing sit in protest across the four borders of Delhi. The farmers are demanding that the government roll back its three farm laws and also legalise Minimum Support Price. The demand for legalising MSP is an old one; however as the three laws in question dismantles Agricultural Produce Markets Committee (APMCs) the privatices the trading, the farmers find it crucial to enunciate their demand for MSP. Farmer Unions are working consistently towards creating an awareness about the importance of MSP.
One such attempt is an “MSP Loot Calculator” released by Jai Kisan Andolan on March 18, 2021.
This calculator shows that farmers are receiving significantly lower prices than the MSP promised by the Government in different markets for Channa/Bengalgram in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat. According to Samyukta Kisan Morcha approximately 140 crore rupees has been ‘looted’ from farmers in just the first fortnight of March in just this one crop. The details put out by JKA also show a significant dip in arrivals in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka compared to the average of the last three years.
Amidst the ongoing and strengthening farmers’ protests across the country, Food corporation of India (FCI) is to bring in tighter procurement specifications for food grains. SKM has strongly condemned this. Calling this decision of the FCI an ‘irrational one’ the SKM noted, ‘this (move) defies the many decades of procurement work already done. For instance,
For wheat, FCI is proposing that Moisture Content will be brought down to 12% from 14%, foreign matter reduced to 0.50% from 0.75%, Slightly Damaged Grains decreased from 4% to 2%, and reducing the prevalence of shrivelled and broken grains from 6% to 4%. The proposals for uniform specifications of food grain for procurement under central pool also mention that from now on there can be no prevalence of other food grain in wheat whereas upto 2% was allowed till date. Further, no infested (with weevils etc.) grains will be purchased any more.’
FCI is also seeking land records to set up Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of the price for procured grain. This move is noted as an absurd one by SKM as in a large number of cases in the country cultivators and land owners aren’t the same.
SKM considers these moves by FCI as an attack on the ongoing farmers’ movement, and on Punjab which is in the forefront of the struggle. “Punjab and Haryana farmers will resist these moves by FCI very strongly and will chalk out a strategy for the same”, said SKM on March 18, 2021 in the press meet on the 113th day of the farmers’ movement.
It is against this backdrop that Samyukt Kisan Morcha will mark the Muzara Lehar shahadat diwas today, March 19, 2021. By remembering one of the largest struggles of the tenant farmers in the country’s history, SKM has said it aims to ‘highlight the plight and denial of rights of tenant farmers all over India.’ In the meeting of 32 farmers organizations of Punjab, it was decided that farmers of Punjab will not submit the Land Record related papers. Punjab’s farmer organizations appealed to the farmers of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and other states that they also should not submit the records. In this regard, a memorandum to the Prime Minister will be given via Mandi Secretary in all the Mandis.
This is an expression of farmers’ disapproval of and resistance to FCI’s changed procurement norms and specifications.
Farmers across the country continue to protest
A Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat was organised in Patna, Bihar on March 18, 2021. There was a huge turnout in the jan sabha. A Mahapanchayat was held in Nayavas in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh today. In Madhya Pradesh, members of Samyukt Kisan Morcha gave a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister demanding procurement from all farmers at MSP. The Kisan Mazdoor Jagriti Yatra that was started in Uttarakhand reached Aliganj in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh. The yatra received a warm response from the local public throughout its route.
In Andhra Pradesh, a state level convention was organised in Vizianagaram by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) state chapter along with others to ensure the implementation of March 26 Bharat Bandh and other programs of SKM.
‘Mitthi Satyagrah Yatra’ has reached Varanasi as it travels around the country to collect soil from different parts, for building a memorial at Singhu Border for the martyred farmers in the current movement. The SKM in its press statement said, ‘more than 300 farmers have had to sacrifice their lives so far in the movement, while the government continues to remain adamant with regard to the demands of the protesting farmers.’