The country was facing an unprecedented agrarian crisis owing to the neo-liberal economic policies adopted by the Centre and the capitalist path of development trodden by the ruling class since independence, said S. Ramachandran Pillai, president, All India Kisan Sabha here on Saturday.

Agriculture was becoming an unviable and a loss-making venture in view of the rising prices of agriculture inputs, implements and fertilisers on the one side and the declining prices of agricultural commodities the other , said Mr. Pillai while inaugurating the seventh all India conference of the All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU), affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in the city.

Unemployment among agricultural workers was on the rise and peasants were selling their cattle and lands to meet their daily expenses. As a result, landlessness was growing at a faster pace. A chunk of agricultural workers were saddled with debt, he said adding that the neo-liberal economic policies had sounded death-knell for the traditional industries.

Pointing out that agricultural workers were the worst sufferers owing to the neo liberal economic policies, Mr. Pillai said agricultural labourers did not have any security in food , nutritional , health , employment and income sectors . The government should pump in more money into the agriculture sector, expand irrigation facilities through public investments besides enhancing investments in science and technology.

It should produce high yielding seeds and supply it to farmer. Terming the social security measures an eyewash , he alleged that the agricultural policies were formulated by the Indo–US Knowledge Initiative. The AIAWU had been urging the Centre to pass a comprehensive legislation that would declare minimum wages for agricultural workers and provide social security measures for them.

But, the Centre's response has been a deafening silence, , he claimed.The government's move to allow foreign direct investment in the retail, banking, insurance and defence sectors would only intensify the process of neo liberal economic policies putting the common man in dire straits, he said.

A powerful and a united movement is the need of the hour to bring about a change in the government's policies, he added.

AIAWU president P. Ramaiah said liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation policies were putting heavy burdens on the living conditions of agricultural workers. Agricultural workers were under the clutches of landlessness and unemployment, he said.

The three-day conference would conclude on July 19.

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