Monday, May 21, 2007

Farm Leader Demands Kisan Budget

Respected Dr. Manmohan Singh Ji
Prime MinisterGovernment of India,
New Delhi,Camp Waifad - Wardha

Subject :- To stop the suicides of food producer, exploitation of raw material must be stopped

Respected Sir,
Hearty welcome to Waifad and thanks for your kind gesture to visit us. Food producer is not only committing suicides in Maharashtra, but also in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and irrigated agriculture belt of Punjab & Haryana. Why? Why is rate of suicides more since 1994 ? Why does the number of suicides by cash crops like cotton, coffee and black peppers producers exceed ? ( Whatever letters I have written to you in this regard are attached herewith )Let me quote here that farmers - to which ever region they belong - who are not committing suicide are living just because they are not dying.Prof M.S.Swaminathan the Hon. Chairman of National Farmers Commission, constituted by Government of India itself, visited our region. Cognizance of his recommendations is not at all taken by government. He had recommended Rs 550 /- quintal advance bonus taking into account huge trade distorting subsidies to American cotton producers. Even that is not done. We request you to fulfill this demand of ours.Respected Sir, farmers suicide rate increased after 1994 because since then we integrated our economy with that of the high cost economy of the world. Cost of living increased because of the devaluation of rupee, and hike in the petroleum prices. Organized salaried class / city dwellers were given economic cushioning by implementing the Fifth Pay Commission. But the village farmers and farm labourers were forced to live in the low cost economy. After 1994 cost of living increased, cost of production increased, but the market prices of crops have decreased. This altogether have increased the loan on farmers and left no way to repay it. It has pushed farmers towards suicides. First decade of the free market economy, has failed and increased the exploitation of Indian farmers. I expressed the same thoughts in front of Pascal Lamy, Chairman WTO. In 1994 price of per pound of cotton lint in the international market was 1US$&10cents. After 1997 it came down to 40cents. American farmer doesn’t commit suicide but Indian farmer does! The reason is that America gives huge subsidy, more than 14000 crores of rupees per year to its cotton growers. WTO has failed to bring down these subsidies. India has imported 110 lakh cotton bales, a record import, from 1997 to 2004. Import duty on cotton is just 10%.Dear Sir, Why did the Korean farmer kill himself in front of the ministerial meeting of WTO at Cancun? Why did he say “WTO IS A KILLER”? To tell you these facts is like showing a torch to the sun.While my stay in Vietnam I was interviewed by a government newspaper there. Copy of that interview is also attached with.With reference to all this, an economic policy must be framed in such a manner that it will not only be beneficial to the farmers of Vidarbha but of to the farmers of the whole Nation.According to the Constitution of India, agriculture is the state government’s subject but all the important decisions regarding agriculture as given below are taken by the central government.I) To fix the minimum support price of cropsII) To frame the import and export policyIII) To frame the credit policy And when something goes wrong Central government kicks us to State government and State government towards Central government! Farmer is treated just like a football!!Maharashtra state government’s package for 2005-2006 could not save lives of hundreds of farmers. I am very sorry to state that this package has been given by the intention of making fools of all of us. First of all Maharashtra government spread the feeling of hopelessness amongst the farmers by canceling the advance bonus on cotton that was given for so many years, thus it saved it’s 1100 crore rupees. Then it declared the package of 1075 crore rupees which consists of 750 crore rupees collected from us farmers only. Government gave us only 261 crore rupees, and that too after snatching away 1100 crore rupees (advance bonus)from us! Isn’t that a foul play? And injustice in altogether ? Package also said about the reconstitution of loans which is not implemented properly. We agree with elimination of private money lenders from the system. But if banks do not give us loans in time, on whom will we rely upon?Credit must be reconstituted and credit limits be increased. But capacity of the farmer to repay the loans must be increased and that can be done only if the farmer gets right price for his produce. You are an economist and I a base farmer, I agree. But very politely Sir, let me mention that 70% population in this country does not have the paying capacity to purchase food for itself. Will it be fair then to say that farmer will get price for his produce in the prevailing system?It is the need of the hour to reinstate in the farmers heart the confidence regarding the system.We want you to consider only the following four demands at this moment :1) Waive loans upto 25000 rupees.2) Increase the loan repayment capacity of farmers by giving right price for agriculture produce. Hence impose 60% import duty on cotton and unless America stops subsidies to it’s cotton growers give subsidy for cotton exports3) Promote dry land crop like Jowar by giving 1000 rupees/acre subsidy for Jowar.4) Disparity amongst cities and villages is increasing. India is heading to become SUPER INDIA and Bharat is coming down to the level of Ethiopia. To stop this, include farm labourer in 6th pay commission. Tune up the wages of farm labourer to that of the minimum salary of government employee and include this in the CACP’s process of fixing minimum support price for crops. Intervene in such a manner that those prices we get in the market.

Gandhiji wanted an India with DIGNITY OF LABOUR. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar said that politics should be an instrument to help men and women to live the life like that of humankind. You yourself say that the new economic system should have a human face.
All the best to you ! And thank you!!
Vijay Jawandhia
Shetkari Sanghatana
Waifad, Maharashtra