Farmers have called a statewide agitation from October 2 to protest against the alleged failure of the state government to address farm distress and demand a complete farm loan waiver.
Calling the government’s policies “anti-farmer”, farm leader Dr Ajit Nawale said, “We have decided to hold statewide protests and will organise sit-ins in each village against the policies of the government. Over the last few months, drought and floods have ravaged major parts of the state. However, the state’s help to farmers has been abysmal. We will protest against the government’s anti-farmer policies.”
Nawale said the protests would be non-political and would be held under the banner of “Mi Shetkari” (Me, the Farmer) movement.
“We do not want the protests to be politicised. We, however, feel that this is the best time for farmers to ensure that their demands are met…so, we are asking farmers to hold sit-ins in their respective villages. We have also requested farmers to allow candidates to hold elections rallies only if they give written assurance to agree to support the cause of a complete farm loan waiver and a minimum support price at 1.5 times the production cost,” Nawale said.
Earlier in February, the CPI(M)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha had taken out a farmers’ march from Nashik seeking a complete loan waiver for farmers, implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations and Rs 40,000 per acre relief for all drought-affected farmers. Their charter of 15 demands included MSP at one-and-a-half times the full cost of production, a pro-farmer crop insurance scheme, increased pension as well as ration and food security. Among others, they had also demanded that the government should give land belonging to various temples in Maharashtra to the farmers for ploughing. The protest was called off after the AISK leadership received assurances from the state government that their demands would be met.
In September, the state Cabinet had cleared a proposal to waive farm loans availed from licensed private moneylenders. Officials had claimed the loan waiver amount may run into about Rs 200 crore, even as the government had underlined that it was a “one-time relaxation”. The Cabinet had also approved the launch of Nanaji Deshmukh Krishi Sanjivani project in 15 districts, covering 2.5 lakh farmers in 142 villages, to cope with climatic challenges.