We need the right to fix prices, say farmers

Farmers’ martyr day observed

July 21, 2015 03:27 pm | Updated 03:31 pm IST - BELAGAVI

Farmers raising slogans on the occasion of 35th Farmers' Martyr Day observed in Belagavi on Tuesday.  PHOTO: BY P.K. BADIGER.

Farmers raising slogans on the occasion of 35th Farmers' Martyr Day observed in Belagavi on Tuesday. PHOTO: BY P.K. BADIGER.

Farmers made a vociferous demand for “right to fix price” for their produce as enjoyed by the industry and waiver of agricultural loans and interest on it on the occasion of 35 Farmers’ Martyr Day observed in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Tuesday.

The occasion, which also turned to be a protest against the alleged failure of the State and Union governments to evolve pro-farmer policy measures to mitigate their depleting financial condition and arrest series of suicides, was organised under the banner of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, supported by various farmers’ organisations.

District president of the Sugarcane Growers Association T.T. Murkatnal said the manufacturers of industrial and various other consumer products enjoyed the right to fix price for their products and sold at MRP (Maximum Retail Price). But the same right was denied to the growers of food grains, fruits, vegetables and all such commodities grown in agricultural fields and farms. The government was not even willing to at least fix scientific price for the agricultural produce considering the cost of cultivation.

Essentially, denial of right to agriculturists to fix the price of their produce and absence of scientific prices for agricultural commodities are the two fundamental reasons behind millions of small and marginal farmers becoming bankrupt, some of whom are committing suicide due to their inability to overcome financial indebtedness and loss of hope that the government is there to protect him, said Prof. Murkatnal.

Earlier, KRRS district general secretary Beerappa Pujery said one of the reasons behind suicides this year was failure of the sugar mills to pay the bills within the stipulated 15 days from the date of supplying of sugarcane and lack of irrigational facilities. Delay in payments was forcing small and marginal farmers to take loans from private money lenders at exorbitant interest rates with no accountability.

He said the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (S) were shedding “crocodile tears” on farmers’ deaths only to “divert attention” from exploitation by sugar mills, many of which were controlled by their own party legislators, Ministers, MPs and leaders. He also alleged that the Modi government at the Centre failed to implement its pre-poll promises, one of which was to bring back black money stashed away in Swiss banks and distribute it among every Indian. On the contrary, the loan accounts of farmers show higher balances.

In an ironical appeal to the Congress government in the State, he said: “You have launched various “bhagya” schemes, you gave us “savina bhagya” (fate of death); we earnestly appeal to you to give just one more scheme – the loan and interest waiver scheme.”

KRRS district president Basavaraj Malalli and other leaders spoke on similar lines and said the farmers would not require any loan or loan waiver schemes if the government fixed scientific prices for all agricultural commodities.

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