Why farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are protesting

Farmers in two of the largest states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which are presently ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, have resorted to agitation over a wide-range of issues concerning their livelihood.

Written by Sajin Saju | New Delhi | Updated: June 6, 2017 8:45 pm
farmers protests, farmers agitation, farm loan waiver, maharashtra, madhya pradesh Farmers throwing vegetables on a road during a protest as part of the Maharashtra bandh over various demands in Nagpur, Maharashtra. (PTI Photo)

India received a normal rainfall in 2016 – three per cent less than the 100-year average – after reeling under severe drought for two successive years. In addition, the country registered record food grain production in the same year, as per the official figures of the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers welfare. This was 6.37 per cent higher than last five years average production and 8.6 per cent more as compared to 2015-16. The government also boasted of having allocated more budget to agriculture than the previous UPA regime with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself promising to double the income of farmers by 2022. However, all these seemed to have had a little impact on farmers in terms of easing their problems.

Now, farmers in two of the largest states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which are presently ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, have resorted to agitation over a wide-range of issues concerning their livelihood. So, what has happened since then that the farmers have been forced to protest despite brief ‘spell of relief’?

Ongoing stir and farmers’ demands in Madhya Pradesh

According to latest reports, protests turned violent as three farmers were killed by police in Mandsaur, the epicentre of the agitation which lies 325 kms from the Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal. Subsequently, curfew was imposed in the area and prohibitory orders were issued in other parts of the district. They have been protesting since June 1 demanding minimum support price for their farm produce, among other things. On Monday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tried to assuage frayed nerves, insisting that his government was taking all the necessary steps to address the issues of the agitating farmers. He said a price stabilisation fund of Rs 1,000 crore would be established to procure the farm produce at the minimum support price (MSP).

farmers protests, farmers agitation, farm loan waiver, maharashtra, madhya pradesh, farmers agitation, farmers strike, MSP, agriculture, indian express Bhopal : Farmers throwing vegetables on a road during their nation-wide strike and agitation over various demands, in Bhopal on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

The Centre’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes in November last year came as a severe jolt to farmers as cash is the primary mode of transaction in agriculture sector. Moreover, pandemonium prevailed in different parts of the state as the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, an organistaion affiliated to the RSS, suspended the agitation while others refused to budge. Calling off the agitation, the BKS said that the government had accepted most of its demands like buying onions at Rs 8 a kg and paying farmers half their dues at mandis in cash and the remaining via electronic transfer to their bank accounts. Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union, a little-known organisation that is believed to be behind the stir, said the agitation will go on.

Maharashtra farmers stir–a result of UP farm loan waiver and plunging crop prices

In early April, the newly-elected BJP government under the leadership of Yogi Adityanath took a bold step by waiving off farm loan worth Rs 36,359 crore. The move was appreciated by many cutting across various political spectrum. Similar demands were raised by farmers in Maharashtra, which witnessed the highest number of farmer suicides between 2014 and 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, the state saw an 18 per cent jump — from 2,568 to 3,030. Marathwada region of the state also faced drought in both years. The reliance of farmers in Marathwada on water-guzzling cash crops such as sugarcane has been cited as one of the reasons for the distress. The dwindling crop prices is also being viewed as the other reason behind the uprising.

farmers protests, farmers agitation, farm loan waiver, maharashtra, madhya pradesh, farmers agitation, farmers strike, MSP, agriculture, indian express Farmers spilling out milk on a road during their state-wide protest over various demands at Pingli Village in Parbhani, Maharashtra. (PTI Photo)

With the farmers taking to the streets and shutting down wholesale markets, vegetable prices have gone up considerably besides the state facing shortage of milk. As mark of protest, they even dumped produce and milk on the street, and blocked highways while preventing delivery trucks from reaching city markets. Amid mounting pressure, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis promised a loan waiver to small and marginal farmers who were out of the ‘institutional credit system’. However, the agitation showed no signs of abating as it continued for the sixth day today.

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  1. A
    Arun Joshi
    Jun 10, 2017 at 6:10 pm
    Try as you may demonitisation has not affected as much to the moderate and poor as to the rich. Behind this are the rich farmers who have pocketed large sums and want loan waivers. The days of Ramnath Goenka and arun shourie are over with you. They would have first published the beneficiaries of the loan waiver and then let the people decide what this game is about. Incidentally did you people see the video clip put out by Samit Patra of instigating the burning down of a police station. Reminds one of the low life Ahmed Dar . Thank God we do not have to wholly depend on you to weed out the lies and segregate the truth.
    1. K
      Jun 9, 2017 at 10:23 pm
      All the farmers in the photos are wearing shoes and look very cheerful!
      1. R
        Ramesh Bhide
        Jun 9, 2017 at 8:35 am
        Government 'help' to business/agriculture is just as disastrous as government cution The only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off. Mortage the lands of the farmers to nationalised Banks and ofer the debit cards no more than this. rameshbhides@gmail - 73 years young Consulting Engineer [ Reverse Engineering since 1969] & Geophysicist. Mentor: Bharatiy Yuve Shakti Trust. Founded by JRD Tata Turning Job Seekers to Jobs Creators.
        1. M
          Jun 8, 2017 at 4:49 pm
          Man, I so badly long to see protests by such "poor" farmers in states like Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab and Andhra. I wonder why that dont happen with such vigor there?
          1. G
            Gruham Bendakaluru
            Jun 7, 2017 at 1:19 pm
            Do any of those look like "poor" farmers? Farmers will never ever throw away vegetables or spill milk on the roads like the way these paid political goons are doing
            1. R
              Jun 7, 2017 at 8:51 am
              On the ground there is low price for farmers.... some people are blindly defending govt below
              1. M
                Jun 8, 2017 at 4:42 pm
                My man from downtown, do ya have any understanding of agri-politics? If you had ever studied economics, rural politics and commerce, you'd want these farmers to starve. First, these "poor" farmers never intend to pay any of their loans back. The reason why crops are always lying unbought is because these farmers tryna sell em in forged or benami aliases. Why? Loan repayments are deducted at source when govt purchases directly from farmers. Hence, yield aint bought since registered indebted farmers are given preference over others to help em. Doubt it? Research it. Secondly, they team up with stockists to resell their sold produce again to the govt for illegal commission profits. Doubt it? Investigate ya'self. Thirdly, its becoming rarer daybyday to see people taking loans for farming. Its always for personal needs or well...alcohol. Man, as a LANDOWNER MYSELF, i request you to please come out to the farms once to learn their corrupt ways than being an uneducated critic of the system.
              2. S
                Sujatha Selvam
                Jun 7, 2017 at 2:35 am
                "According to eyewitnesses’ accounts, victims had suffered bullet wounds, though district authorities categorically denied that there was any firing by police on agitated farmers. Reflecting on the incident, Mandsaur Collector SK Singh said police flatly denied firing at any protesters" Then who shot the farmers? Was it any Drone from P a k istan gun down the farmers? Instead of trying hide your weaknesses, try to find the real solution before it is too late - warning and caution to BJP government at the Center and in other states.
                1. N
                  Jun 6, 2017 at 11:41 pm
                  On the issue of Farmers protesting to get minimum price of their goods: - It can be negotiated-compromised between buyer and seller while government acts as a referee. If no buyer of farmers produce is immediately available instead of trashing food like this it could be given to charity. there are lots of people and children everyday go sleep hungry. It can help farmers to advance their cause in right direction. But if intention is to just play a politics with the Issue - then these all guys are doomed forever.
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