With elections around the corner, farmers in the state came together along with other groups across the country to demand income and livelihood security to be made key promises by all parties.
The groups held a meeting at Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad during a seminar on the recent approval of Genetically Modified (GM) crop trials by Environment Minister and Kisan Swaraj Niti in the context of upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Key demands included land, forests and seed to remain in the control of rural communities and not be allowed to be monopolised by corporates for their profiteering. Farm unions and civil society groups also demanded open-air releases of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the garb of field trials be stopped.
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“It is a shame for the entire nation that on an average, one farmer in this country is committing suicide every half an hour; every day, around 2,300 farmers are quitting agriculture. Despite so many years of so called agricultural development and Green Revolution, the average monthly income of an overwhelming majority of Indian farmers is far less than what their average monthly expenditure is, making it difficult for most farm households to make their ends meet. The largest displacement in human history is happening from Indian agriculture,” said Devinder Sharma, food policy analyst.
Kapil Shah of Jatan Trust said, “Official data shows that around 25 per cent of our land is degraded because of the chemical and water intensive technologies that we have adopted; it is being predicted that in another 20 years, 60 per cent of our groundwater resources will reach a critical state. In places like Punjab, most of the area is already under Dark and Grey zones. Our seed diversity has been badly eroded. A variety of measures have to be adopted to take this up, and we want political parties to promise that ecological farming will get a huge thrust.”
Talking about the need for ensuring that resources like land and seed are not grabbed and alienated from farmers, Maganbhai Patel of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh explained that without control over such resources in the hands of farmers, livelihood and food security cannot be ensured.