Chandigarh, Aug 21: Agriculture is the mainstay of Indian society but has been in crisis for the past several decades. This is starkly visible in the fact that 305,926 farmers have committed suicide in the past 20 years. In the past few months, hundreds of farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Punjab. The situation is so alarming that every hour, two farmers commit suicide somewhere in the country. Lakhs of farmers are continuing to suffer with debt burden, crop failure, lack of remunerative prices, high private investment into borewells, and lack of support systems from the government.
This crisis of the farming community is a policy-driven crisis. Farm suicides are policy genocide. Though the governments have changed and different parties have been in power, the government policies have been such that farmers’ livelihoods have been consigned to low priority with the underlying push towards corporate-controlled agriculture. Due to this, the farming community is unable to come out of the crisis and the farmer suicides are continuing.
In this context, 40 prominent farmer organizations from across the country, representing lakhs of farmers, met at Chandigarh for three days 19-21st August to collectivize our strength to bring farmers in the centre of the national discourse. We have formed a federation of farmer organisations, called “Kisan Ekta”. The main aim of the Forum of Farmers Movements is to have farmer-centric policies at the state and national levels. The basic idea is to restore the voice of the farming community and the bring back the pride in farming.
For this we resolve that
Farmers are also citizens of India but have treated like second class citizens who are systematically discriminated against.
Farmers are amongst the lowest earning class in the country. The cost of production and the pricing policies are primarily to keep the interests of the consumers and the industry. The forum demands income security for farmers who continue to feed the nation against all odds. An Income Commission needs to be immediately set up to ascertain the right income for farming families in different regions.
Recognising that farmers often are used as political raw material for electoral gains and electoral promises are never kept by the parties after coming to power. Farmer Organisations will now strive to set the political agenda on their own terms.
· All policies related to agriculture, national as well as regional, should be farmer centric and not production centric as of now. Farmer too is a human being. He also needs to support and bring up his family. It is time they get their due share for feeding the nation. Therefore Farmers’ profits and income should be the mantra and not prices and subsidies
· Public investments in agriculture should be increased to improve research, extension and market services and make them accountable. At present, public investment in agriculture is less than that for MNREGA. Agriculture is being deliberately ignored so that farmers are forced to migrate to cities.
· Crop insurance should be made farmer friendly. It should also provide insurance for any price shock.
· Farmer suicides are increasing and govt should immediately take steps to rehabilitate the families affected.
We urge all the Indian citizens to stand up with farmers in their struggle. Do care for those who feed the nation.
Devinder Sharma firstname.lastname@example.org
Balbir Singh Rajewal