AIKSCC to hold consultation on two draft Bills on Feb 19, 2018 in Bengaluru.

Farmers groups to intensify struggle for legal rights around debt prices
news News Saturday, February 17, 2018 - 19:35

In June 2017, a lot of farmer unions came together after the Mandsaur firing incident in Madhya Pradesh saying it was time to put aside their differences. It began as a loan waiver demand, around what’s usually called the C2 + 50% price formula of the Famers’ Commission, also referred to as the Swaminathan Commission.

From a loan waiver demand, the movement has evolved and it’s now asking for freedom from debt. The second demand is assured remunerative prices for all farmers.

Today, there are more than 170 farmer organisations in the country, which represent the interests of many different kinds of farmers. But predominantly, farmer organisations have represented the landed class, the upper caste leadership. So, there’s been an effort within this arrangement to ensure that the most marginalised who can benefit from these two demands, are not left out. 

The various farmer organisations are part of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), which is a broad platform to realise these two demands of the farmers. 

AIKSCC has been demanding that farmers have entitlements around freedom from debt and guaranteed remunerative prices, embedded in central legislations that will address the immediate crisis of all farmers in the country. 

The two Bills were created by AIKSCC (www.aikscc.com) and tabled at the historical Kisan Mukti Sansad on Parliament Street on November 20, 2017, with more than 50,000 farmers from across India participating. 

"With the hollow budget speech of the Union Finance Minister exposing the lack of integrity of governments in fulfilling their election promises, or tackling the agrarian crisis in a resolute fashion, we know once again that farmers actually need legal rights conferred on them on pressing matters like indebtedness and price crash for their produce. The current debate is centred around whether the Government will use a comprehensive cost of production measure (C2) while announcing Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for the upcoming Kharif season crops, while the government is limiting itself to a limited cost definition (A2+FL). Such opportunistic and arbitrary policies by the government should not be allowed to continue any more", said Kavitha Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).

Kavitha added, “In addition to the announcement of an MSP that will actually be remunerative, and will include improved cost estimations, farmers are demanding that such an MSP be meaningful in reality for all farmers. Today, very often, prices realised by farmers are lower than unreasonably-low MSPs as it is. It is against this unjust reality that AIKSCC is demanding that there should be laws to uphold farmers' rights for freedom from debt, and guaranteed remunerative prices.”

GC Byyareddy of Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha said that both these issues are inter-linked, and without tackling both simultaneously, there would not be any relief possible for farmers. 

"To improve the draft Bills created by AIKSCC, there are state level and district level consultations being organised all over the country, and in Karnataka, a consultation is being organised on February 19 in Shasakara Bhawana (Legislators' Home). Legal and agricultural experts, in addition to farmer leaders are expected to provide detailed inputs and feedback to AIKSCC working group members on the Bills. Such feedback will be incorporated before the Bills are tabled in the Parliament", he said.

AIKSCC will be holding a consultation on the two draft Bills that confer legal rights on farmers, on February 19 in Bengaluru, as part of ongoing nation-wide deliberations. 

The consultation is being organised jointly by Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS), Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), ASHA-Kisan Swaraj, Karnataka Prantha Krushi Koolikaarara Sangha (AIAWU), Raitha Krishi Karmika Sanghatane (RKS) and others. 

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