The Andhra Pradesh Farmers’ Federation (APFF) has demanded that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre discuss and implement the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) report submitted by M.S. Swaminathan in October 2006.
In a statement, the Federation president Y. Nagendra Nath alleged that both the government and the Opposition, who were in a race to project themselves as the champions of the farmers’ cause, had little concern for the farming community.
He pointed out that in 2007, the National Advisory Council (NAC) had approved a National Policy on Farmers but not a single meeting was conducted to discuss it.
Mr. Nath said the UPA was upbeat over a record agricultural output of 252 million tonnes of food grains and 352 lakh bales of cotton this year. “On the other hand, the farmer is unhappy over sharp increase in input costs such as fertilizer, diesel and labour. Deprived of minimum support price, he is forced into distress sale. Drought in interior Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra and the impact of Neelam cyclone on coastal Andhra Pradesh caused huge crop losses to farmer this year. In the absence of marketing facilities, he is forced to sell his crop at a very low price. Mounting debts have been forcing an increasing number of farmers to commit suicide,” he lamented.
At this juncture, he said, the UPA government decided to allow FDI in retail sector and was ‘touting it as a panacea to the farmers’ ills’. The Opposition parties expressed their strong reservations against FDI in retail sector and stalled Parliament proceedings over the issue.
Mr. Nath said while both the Government and the Opposition made tall claims on the farmers’ welfare, they did not reflect in their actions.
The main recommendations of the NCF were to change the Terms of Trade for fixing the MSP of agricultural products to benefit farmers and rectification of the methodology used by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) to fix MSP. He said the terms of trade for fixing the MSP by the CACP were outdated and must be changed.
The eight out of 12 factors that were against the interests of the farming community and needed to be changed included: trends in market price, effect on industrial cost structure, effect on cost of living, effect on general price level, international price situation, effect on issue prices and implications for subsidy, inter-crop price parity and demand and supply.
The four factors that were in the favour of farmers were cost of production, change in input price, input-output price parity and parity between prices paid and received by farmers, he added.