Maharashtra task force head condemns Union minister's statement on agri protests

Maharashtra task force head condemns Union minister's statement on agri protests

Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

The head of a Maharashtra government-appointed task force to tackle agrarian crisis has termed the remark of Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh as unfortunate and rubbing salt on the wounds of dying farmers.

Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission chairman Kishore Tiwari urged the minister to look into the status of the government's agrarian programme to resolve the farmers' distress in the country.

Singh was quoted as saying that the protest by farmers in various parts of the country were attempts to get media attention.

Tiwari urged Singh for his urgent intervention as all executives responsible for implementing the prime minister's flagship programmes related to credit flow, crop pattern shifting to national demand, input-output cost regulations and proper market intervention has "intentionally failed to perform their duties", resulting in the recent farmers protest.

As the farmers strike entered the fourth day on Monday, Tiwari, who is the founder of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, said: "Even Maharashtra government has given mega farm loan waiver that will cover 90% debt trapped distressed farmers in the month June 2017, but till date bankers have not started giving fresh crop loan to dying farmers thanks to hostile farm credit policy of Nabard. Moreover, the state government has so far failed to ensure that farmers are paid the fair and remunerative price for pulses and gram despite policy announcements."

In a letter to the minister, Tiwari recalled the report of National Commission on Farmers (NCF) Chairman M S Swaminathan which focused on the rise in farmer suicides and recommended solutions through a holistic national policy for farmers.

The report, submitted during the UPA regime, had listed among major causes of the agrarian crisis the unfinished agenda of land reforms, quantity and quality of water, technology fatigue, access, adequacy and timeliness of institutional credit, and opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing. Swaminathan had also sought shifting of agriculture to the concurrent list, he pointed out.

"This year the state has implemented a mega agricultural debt waiver and debt relief scheme to benefit around six million farmers but as the state has no direct control over PSU banks, it failed to give timely and sufficient credit to the needy and debt-trapped farmers," said Tiwari.