‘Agrarian crisis more severe in State as it stood third in country in terms of farmers’ suicide’

Drawing inspiration from the struggle that forced the Union government to repeal the three controversial farm laws, the farmers’ unions are gearing up for joint struggles to achieve their other major pending demands, which includes statutory backing to the minimum support price (MSP) regime, according to Vijoo Krishnan, joint secretary of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), a key constituent of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM).

The farmers felt betrayed as the Centre had failed to keep its promise of not going ahead with the Electricity Amendment Bill, he said in a conversation with The Hindu here.

“‘We will undertake a sustained campaign for farmer-friendly policies ahead of the Budget session of Parliament,” Mr. Krishnan said after a joint meeting with the functionaries of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) here to spearhead joint struggles.

The “corporate-friendly” Bill would pave the way for privatisation of the power sector and also infringe upon the powers of the States, he opined.

Farm meters

Objecting to the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to fix meters to the farm pump-sets “at the behest of the BJP-led government at the Centre,” Mr. Krishnan feared that the free power scheme would be scrapped sooner than later on the pretext of making power distribution companies self-sustaining.

The State government’s promise to continue subsidies should be taken with a pinch of salt, he added.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed to keep his promise to double the income of the farmers, who remain clueless on coping with the anti-farmer neo-liberal economic policies pursued vigorously by the saffron party,” he alleged.

Farmers’ incomes would not go up without a law to ensure MSP for the produce as they were now left to fend for themselves with the crude market forces, he opined.

“Farmers will end up making losses in the wake of market volatility as those in power have abdicated responsibility of market intervention when the prices fell below the MSP,” he said.

More than one lakh farmers had ended their life in the last eight years with farming becoming a losing proposition following implementation of “pro-corporate agrarian policies,” he said, adding that the trend had caught up with the agricultural labourers, who were increasingly finding the going tough in the wake of the COVID-19-induced economic crisis.

“The agrarian crisis is more severe in Andhra Pradesh,” he observed, and added that the State stood in the third place in the country in the number of farmer suicides.

‘Follow Kerala example’

Taking a cue from the Kerala Government, the YSRCP government should announce a bonus price of ₹800 per quintal over and above the MSP for paddy announced by the Centre.

The food kit being provided to over 90 lakh families in Kerala should be implemented in other States too as the common people struggled to make a living in the wake of ever-increasing prices of all essential commodities with the spiralling prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas having a cascading effect.

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