Why the farmers have stormed Delhi, what they want

Why the farmers have stormed Delhi, what they want

Farmers are mainly demanding remunerative prices for their produce and freedom from debt.
NEW DELHI: Farmers from different parts of the country are knocking at the doors of Parliament in Delhi. Led by opposition leaders and activists, nearly one lakh farmers reached Delhi on Thursday for a march to Parliament today. All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, an alliance of various farmer bodies, has organised the protest called Kisan Mukti March. Almost all the opposition parties including the Congress are supporting the march. The march has disrupted traffic in Delhi on several stretches.

What are their grievances?
Farmers demand remunerative prices for their produce and freedom from debt. A pamphlet distributed by the activists details their grievances. It says farmers get only Rs 5 per kilo for tomato while consumers pay Rs 30. Similarly, the pamphlet shows such difference in rates of moong dal, apples and milk. “Our life is also cheap. In the last 20 years, over three lakh farmers have committed suicide,” it says. The pamphlet says the farmers have no intention to inconvenience the people of Delhi by disrupting traffic but are here to convey their grievances to the government.

What do they want?
Protesting farmers demand a special session of Parliament on agrarian crisis to pass two Bills: one pertaining to one-time full loan waiver, the other for a long-term institutional measures to ensure farmers are not pushed into debt again. They also demand implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations that say the minimum support price should be fixed at 50% above the comprehensive cost of production.

What the government has already done
In July, the Union Cabinet approved a steep rise in the minimum support price (MSP) of crops, giving farmers the promised 50% return on input costs, aiming at easing farm distress and boosting rural demand. The biggest increase in MSP, about 40-50%, is for coarse grains that are planted by the poorest farmers, mostly in unirrigated areas. The government said the “historic” Rs 15,000-crore move fulfilled the promise made in this year’s budget that MSPs would be determined on the principle that the harvest should get the farmers 150% of the cost of planting and tending to the crop.

However, the farmers want the government to do more. “The calculation of support price that the government fixes is erratic and erroneous,” Darshan Pal, a rice and wheat farmer from Punjab, who is participating in the protest told Bloomberg. “The government should include actual rent of land, interest on capital invested and skilled labor rate while calculating the cost of cultivation of various crops.”

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