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‘To save farmers,stop land acquisition,seed patents’

To save the three ‘Fs’ — farmers,food and freedom — the government should make agriculture financially more viable.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh |
February 11, 2011 12:30:06 am

Huge debt on Punjab farmers a cause of concern,says ecological agriculture activist Kavita Kuruganti

To save the three ‘Fs’ — farmers,food and freedom — the government should make agriculture financially more viable,stop MNCs from taking patents on seeds and repeal the Land Acquisition Act.

Expressing these views at a round-table discussion on Kisan Swaraj policy document,organised by Kheti Virasat Mission,ecological agriculture activist Kavita Kuruganti said the Land Acquisition Act should be abolished,and the government should “stop displacing people from habitats,rural and urban,without prior alternative and acceptable rehabilitation”.

Demanding a White Paper on all land acquisition,displacements and rehabilitation since Independence,Kuruganti said documents of all projects,impact on people and natural resources and benefits vis-à-vis cost should be made public along with details of all MoUs signed by the Central and the state governments with bodies that have land acquisition requirements.

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She said the government should not allow intellectual property rights for seeds and cancel all agreements of public institutions with seed companies,such as Monsanto,that have IPR implications.

The government must regulate seed prices and royalties,and promote farmer-breeders and community seed banks,and release farmer-bred varieties through formal systems,she added.

Giving a lowdown on how financially non-viable agriculture had become,she said average monthly income of a farmer household in India from all sources was Rs 2,115 a month,of which Rs 969 was from cultivation.

The highest monthly income was reported in J&K (Rs 5,500) followed by Punjab (Rs 4,960),she added.

“However,65.4 per cent of the Punjab farmers were under debt. Within Punjab,percentage of indebted medium-large farmers was 77.6 per cent and sub-marginal and marginal farmers 58.6 per cent. Average amount of outstanding loans per indebted farmer household is Rs 25,895 in the country and figure in Punjab was highest at at Rs 63,529,” Kuruganti said.

Coming down heavily upon the MSP determination mechanism,she said it was faulty and opaque,besides the price was announced for 25 commodities and market intervention operations exist mainly for rice and wheat.

“In fact,MSPs should take into account actual costs of cultivation and living costs,” she said,adding that a minimum per acre payment to all small and marginal farming households should be made. Those who practise organic farming should be given incentives.

Notably,the Kisan Swaraj Yatra started on October 2 from Sabarmati and ended on December 11 at Rajghat.

Kuruganti said the new policy framework was based on four pillars: economic sustainability of agriculture-based livelihood,ecological sustainability to preserve natural resources,people’s control over agriculture resources and ensuring non-toxic food for all.

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