(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2012
Silk Farmers Hold National Convention
convention against duty free silk import was held at the Speaker Hall,
Shivanna welcomed the delegates to the convention. In his introductory
Dr Vijoo Krishnan, joint secretary, All India Kisan Sabha and convenor
Struggle Committee recounted how the all India Struggle Committee was
September 2010 against the Congress-led UPA governmentís decision to
metric tonnes of duty free silk import. The central governmentís
directly led to distress for the farmers and forced indebted silk
commit suicide in the silk belt of Karnataka, he charged. Attacking the
policies, he warned that these policies will make
Senior CPI(M) leader and chairman, parliamentary standing committee on agriculture, Basudeb Acharia said the neoliberal economic policies pursued by different governments had led to a quarter million suicides by farmers and agriculture was increasingly becoming unviable. Rising costs of cultivation and unremunerative prices for produce as well as policies like duty free import of silk have pushed farmers into extreme distress. He demanded immediate redressal of the problems of the silk farmers and those involved in allied activities. He assured that the problems of the sericulture sector will be raised in the parliament and conveyed his solidarity with the struggle.
G C Byyareddy, general secretary, Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha and organising convenor of the Struggle Committee placed the draft resolution and explained the conditions of the sericulture sector in detail and called for remedial measures. The resolution was later unanimously accepted.
Bachegowda, sericulture minister of Karnataka and K H Muniappa, minister of state for railways also attended the convention and assured that they will raise the issues put forward in the convention with the central government. C Narayanaswamy, ex-MP and Ramesh Kumar, former speaker, Karnataka assembly also expressed solidarity with the struggle. Kempareddy addressed the convention on behalf of the silk reelers. Maruti Manpade, president of KPRS who presided over the meeting said that it was only the pressure of the struggles that made the state and central minister come and express solidarity with the farmers and reelers. He warned of intensified struggles if the government does not accept the demands and asked the farmers to remain vigilant. Yashwant, leader of KPRS proposed the vote of thanks.
SERICULTURE is a farm-based economic enterprise positively favouring the rural poor in the unorganised sector. More than seven million people are engaged in sericulture and allied activities like mulberry cultivation, silkworm rearing, silk reeling, twisting, dyeing, weaving etc. Women constitute over 60 per cent of those employed in down-stream activities of sericulture in the country. Sericulture has been an agro-based industry with high employment potential. It has been an ideal occupation for the economically deprived sections of the society. Sericulture was taken up because of the low gestation period and high returns. It hence is practiced by numerous small and marginal farmers with very small landholding. An acre of mulberry garden and silkworm rearing could support a family of four without hiring labour. Even landless families engaging in cocoon production using mulberry contracted from local farmers is a common practice in some states. The sericulture sector has directly influenced the socio-economic condition of the stakeholders.
in the import duty, will not only affect the livelihood of the farmers
reelers severely, but also in the process,
Falling prices of cocoon and raw silk due to reduction in customs duty will lead to a large scale uprooting of mulberry in the sericulture belts of our country which will result in drastic decline in the raw silk production. The area under mulberry cultivation between 1999-2000 to 2010-11 has come down by 48 per cent in Karnataka, and 20 per cent in Andhra Pradesh and at the national level by 25 per cent.
Central Silk Boardís threshold remunerative price of Rs 165/Kg-Rs
cocoon is unrealistic. The cost of production of cocoons arrived at by
and farmers is nearly Rs 350/Kg. The Karnataka state governmentís
of cost of production is also Rs 250/Kg. The CSB prices donít reflect
increased costs of production. The absence of correct information about
domestic demand and production of silk is also a problem. There is also
correct assessment of the quantity being smuggled into the country. The
that domestic production is far below the demand is questionable and a
assessment has to be made. Dependence on imports rather than following
of self reliance by enhancing productivity is ruining the livelihoods
farmers. The experience of
The continuous fall in prices of cocoons and silk yarn has created panic among the stakeholders of the sericulture industry and farmers are in a state of extreme distress. It is relevant here to state that some sericulture farmers in the traditional silk belt of Karnataka have committed suicide due to crash in prices of cocoons. Such tendencies were unknown in the long history of sericulture in the country. In this background, we demand immediate action on the following to safeguard sericulture industry in the country:
1. The customs duty should be restored to 30 per cent as before.
3. Till announcement of minimum support price, the difference between the cost of production and actual rate should be paid to the sericulture farmers with retrospective effect from March 1, 2011, the date from which customs duty on silk was reduced.
4. Waiver of all loans incurred by the silk farmers after the import duty cut.
6. To announce a special policy for development of sericulture.
national convention seeks an urgent redressal of the grievances of over
million people dependent on sericulture and allied activities. We
the government of