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Issue No.: 560 | February 2014

Farmers Convention in Chandrapur, Vidarbha

Shetkari Sanghatana
The 12th National joint conference of the Shetkari Sanghatana  Mahila Aaghadi was held in Chandrapur (in Maharashtra) on 8, 9, 10 November 2013. The conference was attended by more than 25,000 farmers from Maharashtra and other states in India, and the member representatives of the Kisan Coordinating Council (KCC) from Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

The 12th National joint conference of the Shetkari Sanghatana and Shetkari Mahila Aaghadi was held in Chandrapur (in Maharashtra) on 8, 9, 10 November 2013. The conference was attended by more than 25,000 farmers from Maharashtra and other states in India, and the member representatives of the Kisan Coordinating Council (KCC) from Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

Several Resolutions were adopted by this hugely attended conference which are summarised in this Report.

Supporting Candidates of Swatantra Bharat Paksha in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

The conference notes with regret that after the retirement of Sharad Joshi from the Rajya Sabha, both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha have no worthwhile representation of farmers. The conference supports the decision of the Swatantra Bharat Paksha (the Political wing of the Shetkari Sanghatana, to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections of 2014 from Chandrapur and Nanded and decides to field Mr. Wamanrao Chatap in the Chandrapur constituency and Mr. Gunvant Patil Hangargekar from the Nanded constituency in Maharashtra. The SS resolves to help the two candidates with funds and decides to launch a campaign to collect funds for this purpose.

Droughts and Irrigation Projects in Maharashtra

The fallout of acute drought in Maharashtra last year proves the total failure of the Irrigation Policy of the Maharashtra Government. It is shameful that even after more than 50 years of the formation of Maharashtra State, nearly 25,000 villages are supplied drinking water by tankers. The conference demands that:

a) A CBI inquiry be instituted under the supervision of the Supreme Court to look into the spending of over Rs.70,000/- crores on irrigation by the Maharashtra Government though not more than 1% of agricultural land was brought under irrigation. Those found guilty should be severely punished. Due to current policies, irrigation projects are pending completion. Those projects which are 75% complete should be completed in a time bound manner and people should benefit from those projects.

b) Free and subsidized water supply should be immediately stopped to ensure the optimum use of water as it is a precious commodity.

Sugarcane, Soya bean, Cotton, Onion, Paddy Crops

  • Shetkari Sanghatana protests against the various sanctions and barriers the Government has placed on the export of sugar, onion, cotton, paddy, and soya bean by way of taxes on exports and announcing minimum export price etc. and demands their permanent removal.

  • The minimum support price of Rs.6,040/- per quintal of cotton as prescribed by the Maharashtra State Agricultural Price Committee should be adopted by the Central Government as minimum support price.

  • An advance of Rs.3,200/- per ton of sugarcane shall be paid to the farmers.

  • Minimum support price of Rs. 5,000/- per quintal and Rs. 3,000/- per quintal be fixed respectively for soya bean and paddy taking into consideration the rising cost of production.

Markets for Agricultural Produce

The Central Government has recommended a ‘Model Act’ for farm produce market. The enforcement of this act will open up the market for agro-products and it will also lift the burden of APMCs from the farmers’ shoulders. The Maharashtra Government has not taken any step in this direction. The government should dissolve all the APMCs with immediate effect to give the farmer the freedom to sell his farm produce to who he wants, wherever he wants and at a price mutually agreed between the seller and the buyer.

Electricity Bills of Farmers

Till the time the agricultural sector gets uninterrupted electricity supply, the farmers should not be charged for electricity and all bills raised on the farmers should stand cancelled.

A separate state of Vidarbha

Shetkari Sanghatana has always supported the view that small states are efficient for administrative purpose - a stand propounded by Rajaji (founder of Swatantra Party). Because of non-implementation of the Nagpur agreement, Maharashtra is facing a problem of regional imbalance. Thus there is a rise in Vidharbha’s development backlog, farmer’s suicides, Naxalite movement, and environmental degradation. Vidarbha is also facing a problem of reduction of one Lok Sabha and four Vidhan Sabha seats due to reduction in population caused by migration of people in search of jobs elsewhere thus reducing  people’s representation in Government. This development backlog will never be cleared considering the deteriorating financial condition of Maharashtra state. In view of pubic demand and the reports of various Committees / Commissions confirming Vidarbha’s capability to become an economically sound state due to the availability of rich natural resources, the 12th National Conference of SS demands a separate state of Vidarbha.

Food Security and Land Reforms Laws

  • The Shetkari Sanghatana demands repeal of Food security Act which will be a disaster for the agricultural profession. Besides many ill-effects of the law, price collapse for agricultural commodities in the open market leading to change of crop pattern will ultimately result in reduction of food crops and will place a burden on the public exchequer.

  • Shetkari Sanghatana strongly records its protests against the recommendation of the National Land Reforms Committee constituted by the Central Government which suggested that the land ceiling for non irrigated land should be brought down from the present 54 acres to 15 acres.  In case of irrigated land, it recommends that the ceiling be brought down to 10 acres from present 36 acres (in case one crop), 25 acres (in chase of two crops), and 18 acres (in case of three crops). The Committee also recommended that the exemptions given to religious, educational, charitable, research and industrial organization as well as plantation and aqua farms should be strictly discontinued. These institutions shall not be allowed to use more than 1 unit of 15 acres. SS demands that these recommendations be rejected by the Central Government forthrightly and the State Governments also he directed to reject these recommendations.

Freedom to Use Technology

This 12th plenipotentiary Conference of Shetkari Sanghatana

  • Recognizes the responsibility of agriculture towards meeting the increasing demand of agricultural produce for food, fuel, fodder, industrial feed and pharmaceuticals in spite of decreasing arable land due to urban growth, roads, public utility projects, mining and erosion; increasing labour wages and prices of agro inputs leading to  increasing losses  in agriculture;

  • Recognizes the need of rational use of water, fertilizers, pesticides and other agrochemicals

  • Stresses the necessity of using of all available technologies in agriculture in effort for surviving in such adversities,  and  continuing improvement in the productivity in agriculture to sustain and improve sources of employment and purchasing power in rural India;

  • Considers agricultural technologies, particularly biotechnology and recombinant DNA technology, an inseparable components of rural and agricultural economic reconstruction of India;

  • Recognizes the necessity of conserving farmers’ freedom to use genetic engineering, biotechnology and all such technologies in agriculture;

  • Remembers the glorious battle of long 7 years from 1999 to 2006 farmers  have fought  under the leadership of the SS for BT technology in cotton;

  •  Decries the various restrictions, controls, bureaucratic methods and delays that continue to block the adoption and use of these technologies and condemns it for causing delay in the  use of this technology under the excuse of extremely exaggerated fear about safety of the GMO crops and products;

  • Notes with satisfaction the advancement made by the new recombinant technology  developing weedicides as also more sophisticated varieties of pest-resistant, drought-resistant, salinity-resistant as also vitamin enriched seeds;

  • Also notes with concern the fact that the technology is increasingly complex and expensive and is going beyond the understanding of the bureaucrats, and further notes that the NGOs’ attack on the new technology is becoming increasingly fierce and that the so-called scientific laboratories as also a part of the Judiciary has come to help these NGOs and recognizes the need for the strong political representation for the farmers both at the state and Central levels;

  • Further recognizing the increasing complexity of both the pesticides and the seed industries, the Sanghatana demands that their increasingly complex character be understood by the politicians and in view of this, decides to strengthen the political front of the SS at least to a point where the Swatantra Bharat Paksha (SBP) becomes a recognized political party. This recognition requires at least two members in the Lok Sabha;

Issues Relating to Women and Women’s Security

  • This conference expresses deep grief for non implementation of various resolutions passed in the Chandwad (1986), Amravati (1989), Raveri (2001) sessions of Shetkari Mahila Aghadi.

  • The conference acknowledges that the problems relating to drinking water, toilets, health and education still persist and therefore emphasizes the need for conducting programmes in the villages to sensitize people about these issues. The conference expects the women who are elected on the Local Bodies to give priority to these problems.

  • The problem of women’s security has become a serious issue. The various laws and legislations are ineffective in curbing the incidences of sexual assaults and other crimes against the women. To make the women self reliant and fearless, this conference expresses the need of imparting training in self defense techniques like Judo and Karate.

  • To preserve women’s respect and honour, the conference gives importance to family ties not    just among the immediate/near relations but emphasizes revival of distant relations and harmony amongst the people in the society.

  • Technology has solved many problems of women and has made their life easier. Therefore this conference extends full support to various research activities carried out in the country as well as outside the country. It demands freedom of access to technology and there should be no barrier on its usage.

  • Taking into consideration the complexity created by the present laws relating property rights of women, there is a need to review the laws of women’s property rights.

Based on the Report in the Shetkari Sanghatk, the fortnightly journal of the Shetkari Sanghatana. Summaryand English translation by Supriya Panse.

You can’t leave a footprint that lasts if you’re always walking on tiptoe.
 -   Marion C. Blakey, Reader’s Digest, January 2008






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