Special Correspondent

‘Over 1.5 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the country between 1997 and 2005’

Demand to fix procurement price of sugarcane at Rs. 1,750 a tonne

MYSORE: Farmers under the aegis of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh staged a demonstration in the city on Monday to highlight the “growing crisis in the agricultural sector and the exploitation of the farming community”.

The farmers lamented that rich people and multinational companies were buying up agricultural land facilitated by the Government’s liberal economic policies.

Underlining the growing crisis in the agricultural sector, sangha activists quoted statistics from the National Crime Bureau that over 1.5 lakh farmers had committed suicide in the country between 1997 and 2005.

Criticised

Pointing out the disparity in prices and wages in the agricultural sector compared to the non-agricultural sector, the sangha criticised the Government for its “lopsided economic policies that are creating a wedge between the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors”.

Drawing attention to the subsidy earmarked in the Union Budget for fertilizer units during the current financial year, the sangha members pointed out that instead the Government could have promoted organic and natural farming.

Declined

The farmers made light of the Government’s loan waiver scheme amounting to Rs. 60,000 crore and said the budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector had declined over the years. From a budgetary allocation of 27 per cent of the GDP, the allocation for agriculture has shrunk to less than 6 per cent of the GDP, according to the sangha members.

Other demands included fixing procurement price of sugarcane at Rs. 1,750 a tonne, compulsory crop insurance scheme to cover all farmers and repair of irrigation canals.

The farmers urged the Government to remove silt from tanks and other water bodies and release water to fill tanks in the tail-end region of the Cauvery basin areas.

They also called for regulation of financial institutions, which were reluctant to extend loans to farmers but were keen to offer tractor loans through tie-ups with companies. This had pushed many farmers into debt and, hence, the Government should crack down on this menace, said the sangha.

The farmers also demanded market price for land acquired for conversion to industrial and non-agricultural purposes and sought action against Revenue Department officials for their alleged complicity in harassing farmers.

The sangha also urged the Government to establish a network of marts so that farmers could directly sell their produce to the public.

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