People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 22

May 28, 2006

AIKS Places Demands Before Agriculture Minister


A SEVEN member delegation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) met union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on May 18, 2006  and  presented a memorandum concerning the burning issues of  farmers. During their discussion with the  minister, the AIKS leaders explained  the various  problems being faced by the peasantry in different corners of the country, among which included the issues of wheat import, procurement policy, public distribution system etc. Although the minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation, his reply to the issues raised did not satisfy the kisan leaders. With this the minister assured to give detailed reply in the coming few days to the issues raised in the memorandum.


The minister also promised to take immediate action on the following demands:

m purchase of onions in Rajasthan and mustard in Rajasthan and parts of Haryana

m include damages of crops by frost in the list of natural calamity so as to pay relief to the affected farmers of Haryana and other places.

m look into the damages of wheat crops in large parts of Bihar due to spurious seeds.

m payment of dues of poultry farmers of Haryana


The minister invited the  AIKS delegation to meet him again after the current session of parliament for a detailed discussion on the demands raised in the memorandum. The delegation comprised of N K Shukla, joint secretary of the organisation, Amra Ram,  president  of Rajasthan  state unit, Girdhari Singh, joint secretary of Rajasthan unit, Phul Singh Sheokand,   president of  Haryana     state unit,  Bharat  Singh, joint secretary of UP state unit, Balram Singh Yadav, vice president of Bihar state unit  and Gur Chetan Singh, vice president of Punjab state unit of the AIKS.


Following is the full text of the memorandum:


WE, the representatives of the All India Kisan Sabha wish to draw your attention to the increasingly distressing plight of peasantry. The number of  suicides of farmers is increasing either  due to price crash of their produce or due to failure of their crops because of spurious seeds (as the wheat crop failed this year in large parts of Bihar) and other inputs or due to natural calamities like hailstorms, frosts (as in Haryana), cyclones, floods, draughts etc. Procurement system is being continuously weakened. Procurement of mustard has been stopped in Rajasthan, Haryana and other places. Onion growers are facing severe price crash in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and other places. The amount of institutional credit supply to the rural areas has been decreasing in recent years, forcing the farmers to opt for borrowing from private moneylenders at high interest rates. Credit-deposit ratio in rural areas has come down to below 40 per cent from 69 per cent in 1990.  Subsidies and investment to agriculture sector is being squeezed day by day, at the dictates of WTO. Reckless import of agricultural and dairy produces is causing widespread  price crash of our produces.


We oppose the decision of the central government to import about 3 million tones of wheat at the rate of around Rs 900 per quintal, when  the MSP rate for our farmers was declared only Rs 650 per quintal. The government agencies entered late in the market and did not open purchasing centres all over the country last year, and procured only 14.78 mt while the wheat output was more than 72 mt. This year also there is no shortage of wheat in Indian market, but a panic has been created due to announcement of import. A large part of wheat is being cornered by big traders and MNCs, for creating  artificial scarcity later and consequently  make money due to the sky rocketing prices of foodgrains.


There is every danger of dismantling of public distribution system (PDS) and food-security of our country on a wider scale. We also note with indignaion  the move by various departments of  the government to pressurise the state governments to reverse the land reforms and privatise the power and irrigation sector in name of neo-liberal policies.


All these steps by the government are bringing miseries for the farmers, pushing them to suicides and creating havoc for the country as a whole. Therefore, we, the representatives of All India Kisan Sabha, present the following demands before you for acceptance by the government of India, so as to mitigate the miseries of farmers and general people of the country:

  1. Stop the import of wheat immediately and procure required quantity from our own farmers at suitable remunerative price. Strengthen procurement system with MSP for all crops and in all the corners of the country. Quantitative restrictions on import must be imposed for all the agricultural produces and tariff rate be suitably increased to protect the Indian agriculture.

  2. Import of all the dairy products must be stopped.

  3. The PDS must be strengthened throughout the country providing 14 consumer goods to the general people.

  4. Stringent measures  be taken against big traders and  MNCs  like ITC and Cargill, who are trying to create artificial scarcity and hike in prices of foodgrains.

  5. More institutional credit be provided to farmers at 4 per cent rate of interest and without compound interest as  recommended by the National Commission on Farmers. Concrete steps must be taken to liberate the poor and middle farmers from old debts, both private and institutional.

  6. A comprehensive crop-insurance scheme must be implemented for all crops and for all individual farmers at a cheaper and affordable rate of premium.

  7. Immediate relief must be provided to the farmers, whose crops have been damaged by natural calamity or due to supply of spurious seeds or other inputs. Stern action must be taken against suppliers of such spurious inputs. A chain of cold storages must be constructed throughout the country to protect the perishable agricultural produces.

  8.  Ex-gratia payment must be made to the families of farmers who committed suicides and their debts and other liabilities be waived.

  9. Moves to privatise power and irrigation sectors must be stopped forthwith.

  10.  Land reforms must be encouraged and comprehensive central   legislation for agricultural workers adopted. Tribals and other poor forest dwellers must be protected from eviction by suitable amendments in Tribal Rights Bill.

  11. Seed Bill must be suitably amended  so as to protect the traditional  rights of  farmers to grow, save, exchange  and sell their own grown seeds or plants.