Jai Kisan Andolan (Swaraj Abhiyan)/Raithu Joint Action Committee Telangana
Press Note: 13th March 2018
MASSIVE ALL INDIA MSP SATYAGRAHA MOVEMENT LAUNCHED BY ALLIANCES OF FARMERS ORGANISATIONS IN CONTINUATION OF FARMERS AGITATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
– Yogendra Yadav, President, Swaraj India: Remunerative Price and Freedom From Debt Trap are two main issues of Farmers – Recent Nashik-Mumbai March of Farmers on these demands shows the large-scale dissatisfaction of farmers, including adivasi farmers with Govt. platitudes – MSP Satyagraha is designed in true spirit of Gandhian Satyagraha for collective discovery of truth about MSP; officials, activists and especially media are invited to join
-The loss that may be suffered by farmers only for Channa this season could be Rs.6087 Crores: Yogendra Yadav
-Prof. M. Kodandaram, Chairman, Raithu Joint Action Committee: Condition of Farmers in Telangana are particularity vulnerable and KCR Govt. seems to have woken up of late and is sloganeering hard on farmers issues; on the ground, the many schemes announced are showing no result; Tur and Bengal Gram is being sold at Rs.1000 below MSP
Kiran Vissa: Convenor, Raithu Swarajya Vedika: Satyagraha will be launched from Yadgir in Karnataka and go from Mandi to Mandi and raise awareness of legal right of MSP and prevent loot of farmers; Kurnool in Andhra and Suryapet and Kodad in Telangana will be covered by the Satyagraha; Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will follow in Phase I
Minimum Support Price (MSP) is at the heart of the existing system to ensure fair and remunerative returns to farmers. Thus MSP is a solemn guarantee to the farmers to the effect that the Central Government shall ensure a floor price, should the farmers fail to get even that level. Unfortunately, neither the Central Govt. nor the State Governments have been paying any attention to the dire condition of farmers and the all-around agrarian distress in the country. Southern states like Andhra, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have populist slogans and schemes but nothing is visible on the ground. As a result, farmers are being compelled to sell almost all their produce at prices much below MSP and the Governments are mute spectators if not active connivers to this loot of farmers.
The recent agitation of Farmers in Rajasthan and Maharashtra have made the Governments realize that immediate proactive steps have to be taken to tackle the problems of farmers but past experience shows that after making a mouthful of promises, Governments do nothing tangible. Hence, the MSP Satyagraha is being launched to continue and strengthen the agitations that are springing up all over the country, so that the core issue of farmers, remunerative price, is brought to the fore and the Governments are compelled to honor promises already made to farmers.
The Finance Minister’s budget speech of 2018 laid special emphasis on the Central Government’s commitment to ensuring MSP to the farmers. Mr. Jaitley announced and assured that his Government had already implemented (for the majority of Rabi crops) and was going to further implement (for unannounced Rabi and Kharif crops) its electoral promise of ensuring prices that yield at least 50% returns over the cost of production. Farmers’ Movements have already exposed this claim to be a case of sleight-of-hand. Mr. Jaitley has already admitted that the cost he was speaking about was not comprehensive C2 cost but partial cost known as A2 + FL.
The Finance Minister and subsequently the Prime Minister also admitted that increasing MSP is not adequate and it is more important that farmers should get the full benefit of the announced MSP and for achieving this, the Government was going to take special steps this year to ensure that all farmers actually get the MSP announced by the Government. The Finance Minister further promised that if prices at agriculture produce markets is less than MSP, then the Government shall purchase either at MSP or provide MSP to the farmers through some other mechanism; Niti Ayog, in consultation with Central and State Governments, shall put in place a fool-proof mechanism so that farmers will get adequate price for their produce.
It is time to test this promise as the marketing season for Rabi crop 2018-19 has begun. An analysis of the marketing season of Kharif crop 2017-18 had demonstrated that the farmers were forced to sell much below MSP and had incurred a total loss of at least Rs.32, 702 crores. It may be kept in mind that traditionally farmers losses are lower in Rabi marketing season than during Kharif marketing season.
However, so far the signals are not very good. In the first few weeks of this marketing season, the prices of Bengal Gram (Channa) have fallen substantially below the MSP of Rs.4400 (MSP of Rs.4250+ Rs.150 bonus). The official Agmarknet data for the first week of March shows that the average modal price of Channa is anywhere between Rs. 800 to 1000 below the MSP, also substantially below the prices last year. Sadly much of this loss was avoidable as the Government knew about greater sowing acreage and expected a bumper crop of Channa. Despite this, the Government allowed the substantial quantity of Channa to be imported. In fact, the import during April-November 2017 was 7.47 lakh tonne compared to 2.49 lakh tonne during the same months in 2016. So far, the state response has not been up to the mark. Maharashtra has announced procurement of just 3 lakh tonnes against an estimated arrival of 19 lakh tonnes of Channa. MP’s Bhavantar Yojna has run into difficulties. So far we know little about special measures that the Niti Ayog was to evolve to support the farmers. *On the basis of an estimated arrival of 90 lakh quintals of Channa and the modal price as seen in the first 3 weeks of the present season, farmers may suffer the loss of Rs.6087 crores on this crop alone !!* Two charts showing the losses already made with comparisons of previous year are provided as illustration.
The price situation of other crops is also a cause for concern. Rapeseed oil has also started arriving and is selling around 3,500 against the MSP of Rs. 4000 (MSP Rs.3,900 plus bonus of Rs. 100). Lentil (Masur) is selling between Rs. 3,200 to 3,800 against the MSP of 4,250. Would this trend continue for the rest of the marketing season? Will Wheat fetch MSP outside the handful of states where substantial procurement takes place? The answer lies in making field inquiry at the ground level in the agricultural markets (mandis) during the marketing season.
Jai Kisan Andolan of Swaraj Abhiyan has taken up this challenge in collaboration with many other organisations from within All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) like Ryathu Joint Action Committee (Telangana), Raithu Swarajya Vedika (Andhra), National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (Rajasthan) and Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (Madhya Pradesh). An MSP Satyagraha is being launched from 14th March 2018 at Yadgir in Karnataka. In this Satyagraha, the plan is to travel from Mandi to Mandi and hold Kisan Darbar with twofold objectives:
1. To make farmers aware of the multiple ways in which they are looted and to raise demand for legal entitlement of fair MSP
2. Check out whether farmers are able to get MSP that they have been assured of
MSP Satyagraha is designed in the true spirit of Gandhian Satyagraha. We are on a mission to discover the truth. We do not presume non-compliance on the part of the Government. We would invite government officials, activists, experts and the media to participate in this collective discovery of the truth about MSP.
The schedule of Phase I of MSP Satyagraha is:
14th March – Yadgir (Karnataka)
15th March – Kurnool (Andhra)
16th March – Suryapet, and Kodad (Telangana)
18th-19th March – Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan)
20th March – Rewari (Haryana)
21st March – Alwar (Rajasthan)
22nd March – Nuh (Haryana)
25th March – Rudrapur (Uttarakhand)
26th March – Pratapgarh (Uttar Pradesh)