On June 1 last year, farmers in Maharashtra had embarked on an unprecedented strike, disrupting supplies of fruits and vegetable in cities and towns. Now, on the eve of the first anniversary of the historic ‘Shetkari Sampa’, farmers in the state are divided over the nationwide strike called by 110 farmers’ organisations from June 1. While the organisers are hopeful about its success, major farmers’ bodies have decided to stay away.
Called by the All India Kisan Mahasangh, striking farmers aim to stop the supply of milk and vegetables to urban areas. Sandeep Gidde, coordinator of the strike, said that they had received support from various farmers’ organisations. “Starting tomorrow (Friday), we will stop the supply of milk and vegetables to cities. Farmers will station themselves along highways to stop vehicles transporting milk and vegetables,” he said, adding that he was confident of its success.
However, most mainstream farmers’ organisations are sceptical. Ashoke Dhawale, leader of the CPI(M)’s All India Kisan Sabha, said they won’t support or oppose it. “On June 1, we will protest by tying animals outside tehsil offices and gheraoing them,” he said.
It is the Kisan Sabha that has started an agitation over low realisation of milk by dairy farmers. As against the government-declared rate of Rs 27 per litre of milk with 3.5 per cent fat and 8.5 per cent solid not fat, dairy farmers are being paid in the Rs 17-25 per litre range. The state government has announced a subsidy of Rs 3 per litre production of 20 per cent more skimmed milk powder to firm up milk prices but the benefits are yet to be passed on to farmers.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna’s Raju Shetti and Raghunath Patil had earlier declared it won’t participate in the strike. Most farmers too are reluctant to join the strike as they feel it would entail economic losses. However, Santosh Gorade, a farmer from Nashik, said they would take part. “This is an apolitical strike and we will participate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dilip Khaire, chairman of the board of directors, Pune wholesale market, said the strike might not affect supply. “The market will be open for business as usual,” he said. Vishwas Patil, chairman of the Kolhapur milk union, too dismissed fears of the strike affecting supply.