Corporate houses in agri sector will create crisis for ryots: Sainath
The governments’ anti-agrarian policies and the impending entry of corporate houses in the agriculture sector will create a crisis for farmers in near future, according to P. Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu . A sustained struggle alone would change this situation, he said.
He was addressing the All India Kissan Sabha’s special seminar here on Sunday to motivate farmers to participate in the 33rd all India conference to be held in Cuddalore between July 24 and 27 to discuss ‘Farming, poverty and growth’.
“Farmers’ struggle in the 60’s and 70’s compelled the government to enforce land reforms. The same can be repeated only if the farmers start an intense battle afresh,” he said.
Mr. Sainath predicted that the Union Government’s decision to upwardly revise the gas price to benefit Mukhesh Ambani’s company would double electricity tariff and fertilizer prices also in near future and hence the already dwindling population of farmers would decline further, which would help the ruling class to take farming from the farmers’ hands to the corporate houses.
“The adverse situations prevailing in the country’s farming sector drive 2,000 farmers every day out of their profession to become agricultural labourer and India is witnessing unprecedented migrations of these labourers from rural areas to the urban areas in search of livelihood that would lead to the creation of ‘census towns’ where there will be no basic infrastructure,” Mr. Sainath said.
The noted journalist, who has studied extensively the plight of farmers’ suicides in the country, said that the cotton farmers, who could buy one kilogram of local seed for just Rs.9 just a decade ago, had to buy the BT cotton seed for Rs.4,000 a kilogram in 2012.
The farmer, who had to spend just Rs.2,500 for growing cotton on an acre in a rain-fed area 10 years ago, had to shell out anywhere between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 20,000 now.
Even as the domestic price for cotton was crashing, the government, in a bid to help the local mill owners, banned cotton export even though cotton price at the international market was so high. Similarly, the multinational companies that encouraged the Kerala farmers to go in for vanilla cultivation and gave attractive procurement price for just two seasons let them down after they started receiving the cash crop from other countries. Subsequently, it led to thousands of vanilla farmers landing in debt trap, he noted.
“An MBA graduate from corporate companies will form farmers’ groups, teach ragi, chilli, cumin cultivation to our agriculturists, who have already got rich experience in cultivating a range of crops even in adverse conditions. This entry by the MNCs is an attempt to gobble farm subsidies to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees,” Mr. Sainath warned.
He also came down heavily on the governments and the banks which were giving farm loans to the rich while letting down the farmers, the real beneficiaries.