Thursday, September 27, 2018

“WE WILL NOT GO BACK EMPTY-HANDED” – FARMERS VOW TO SECURE THEIR LONG PENDING DEMANDS FROM THE GOVERNMENT

Close to 10,000 small-scale farmers and farm-workers are marching towards India's national capital demanding freedom from debt, better remunerative prices for their produce and peasant friendly public procurement and payment system from the government. The long march that started on 23 September from Haridwar has mobilised thousands of farmers on its way and is expected to reach New Delhi on 02 October.



ON DAY 5 OF KISAN KRANTI YATRA, FARMERS REACH MEERUT AFTER STARTING IN HARIDWAR ON SEPTEMBER 23 2018

Thousands of farmers are joining the KisanKrantiYatra initiated by BhartiyaKisan Union (Tikait) on September 23rd 2018 in Haridwar. The yatra crossed Muzaffarnagar today, with long lines of tractors joining the foot marchers. Farmers who are walking in the yatra seemed enthusiastic about raising their issues with the Central Government and have expressed their anger at the inaction of the government. The KisanKrantiYatra is expected to reach Delhi on October 2nd 2018, Gandhi Jayanti.

The main demands of BKU’s KisanKrantiYatra include that MSP for all agricultural produce (including horticulture products and milk) should be fixed using Swaminathan Commission formula of C2+50% in addition to ensuring the MSP actually accrues to all farmers; loan waiver which is unconditional, of all loans including farmers’ loans from moneylenders, that too implemented in one go; Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana should be recast to make each farm a unit, with all premium paid by the government; Farmers should be assured a minimum guaranteed income in addition to smallholders and marginal farmers as well as elderly farmers above 60 years being assured a monthly pension of at least Rs. 5000/-. Farmers are also demanding that the NGT order prohibiting the use of diesel pumps in the NCR area should be exempted in their case, when it comes to tractors, pump sets and other diesel engines etc.

The yatra witnessed massive support of villagers all along the route – every five kilometres, the yatris have been welcomed by local communities with food and warm hospitality. Around 25000 farmers have become part of this yatra so far, led by BKU leaders like NareshTikait, RakeshTikait, Yudhvir Singh, Dharmendra Malik and others.

“It has been a unique experience so far – it is not just farmers who have been welcoming us, but traders and other sections of society too. What is more important is that farmers’ issues are bringing together people of different communities and we have seen Hindu, Muslim and Sikh farmers walking together to claim their rights, without religion dividing them in any way”, said BKU in a statement today. The Yatra has completed 100 kms of foot march so far and the night stay will be in Kathauli tonight.

The yatra is seeing the participation of young, old as well as children, men and women.

“Our farmers are greatly determined to ensure that the government stops cheating farmers any more, and that farmers’ just demands related to freedom from debt and remunerative prices are met. We will not go back with empty hands”, said Bhartiya Kisan Union in its statement.



For more information, please contact: Dharmendra Malik at 9219691168.
For updates on social media, follow BKU facebook page 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Indian Farmers Reject RCEP Trade Agreement, plan major national level agitations






19 Sep, Coimbatore:In a strategy meeting held in Coimbatore today, farmers leaders from the South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM) [1] have rejected the RCEP Trade Agreement, a mega trade deal between some of Asia’s biggest economies, because of disastrous impacts on India’s farmers livelihoods, who are already reeling under an agrarian crisis and low incomes. [2]  They announced plans to agitate nationally in collaboration with other farmers alliances. Two major farmers protests are planned in New Delhi on 2 October [3], and 30 November [4] and RCEP will be high on the agenda.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a a free trade partnership which will open India’s markets to some of the largest economies in Asia- like China, Japan. The RCEP is currently being negotiated between 16 countries- which includes ten ASEAN countries [5] as well as other Asia Pacific countries include AustraliaChinaIndiaJapanSouth Korea and New Zealand. Although the member countries want to conclude the deal by Nov 2018, Indian government is unlikely to acquiesce because of growing resistance at home by farmers and workers[6].

The RCEP agreement will be the largest in the world in terms of population (3.4 billion or 49 per cent of world population), with a combined GDP of around $22 trillion and a trade share of 30 per cent. India has been asked to remove import duties on 92 % of all traded commodities[7]. While India has been resisting and asking for 80% [8]. A key controversial point is that once reduced to zero, the RCEP will not allow India to raise duties at a later date – a provision that even the WTO did not impose.

Major agricultural products like fruits, vegetables, pulses, potatoes, spices, plantation crops, seeds, silk, sugarcane, as well as processed foods will be impacted, as cheaper imports from massive economies like China, Australia will flood the market damaging the livelihoods of local producers.

Dairy in particular is of concern to the SICCFM farmers, as over 15 crore Indian farmers, majorly women are milk producers. Australia and New Zealand want India to remove all duties on dairy in India.“We want production by the masses, not mass production. Our Indian cooperative milk system allowed hundreds of poor farmers to sell milk and earn an income. Now these big dairy companies Australia and New Zealand like Fonterra want to enter our market and displace us,”said KTGangadhar of KRRS.

Indian seeds will also come under threat because of the patent laws which could criminalize seed saving by farmers and will replace local seeds with corporate own commercial seeds[9].Japan in particular has been pushing for this. “If a farmer’s field becomes contaminated by these corporate seeds- then we can go to jail! If we save the seeds for re-planting, they will arrest us for copy right infringement. Seed is life and it belongs to all of us-we reject corporate patents on life,” said Sellamuthu of Tamil Nadu VyavasaigalSangham.




NOTES
[1] SICCFM is an alliance of south Indian farmers movements like Karnataka RajyaRaitha Sangha (KRRS) of Karantaka ,TamilaVyavasaigalSangam (TVS) of Tamil Nadu, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association of Kerala, Adivasi GothraMahasabha of Kerala.
[2] See https://www.grain.org/article/entries/5741-how-rcep-affects-food-and-farmers
[3]  More information on the October 2nd Mobilisation, called the “kisanKrantiyatra”, can be found here: http://lvcsouthasia.blogspot.com/2018/09/indian-coordination-committee-of.html
[4] On Nov 30th there will be the KisanMuktiKooch by the All India KisanSangharsh Coordination Committee. See: https://chinimandi.com/farmers-body-announces-nationwide-stir-against-modi-govts-msp-betrayal/
[5] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_states_of_the_Association_of_Southeast_Asian_Nations
[7] See: https://www.livemint.com/Industry/JYHbei7aTvTi23ojHwhfDL/India-allays-exit-fears-to-remain-engaged-in-RCEP.html
[9]  See: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/india-on-stronger-footing-to-resist-ipr-framework-at-rcep/article9557719.ece

CONTACT:
S Kannaiyan, Convener, SICCFM (Tamil & English)
09444989543, sukannaiyan69@gmail.com

Devison AK, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association, (Malayalam)
09895183882,

Ravi Kiran Punacha, KRRS (Kannada)
09480279037


Friday, September 7, 2018

Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement to mobilize farmers around the country for BKU's Kisan Kranti Yatra from Sep 23 to Oct 2



September 5, New Delhi

Indian Coordination Committe of Farmers Movements(ICCFM) and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), who are also members of La Via Campesina on Wednesday announced a 10-day long 'Kisan Kranti Yatra’ from Haridwar to New Delhi, to press for farmers' demands among other things, for farm loan waiver, higher minimum support price for farm produce, GST-free agriculture and no free trade agreements on agriculture that hits domestic farmers.


ICCFM Leaders said: “Farmers are not getting remunerative price for their produce so their debt is increasing, the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme is not working in the interest of farmers but of the insurance companies. Suicides are increasing and many farmers have quit farming”.


Bhartiya Kisan Union will be launching a massive mobilisation where thousands of farmers are expected to march from Haridwar to Delhi - starting 23 September until 02 October. Upset over the Centre’s “C2 + 50” MSP deal, top farmers’ organisations from across the country are planning a ‘Kisan Kranti Yatra’ right through the BJP’s strongholds later this month.

As Left-leaning farmers' and workers' groups on Tuesday took the centre stage, demanding loan waiver, better rates for produce and minimum wages of Rs 18,000 a month, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leaders Rakesh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh accused the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “not fulfilling promises made to farmers”.

Rakesh Tikait said farmers are still protesting even as the government completed its four-and-half year in the office that shows the government apathy towards farmers and their seriousness about problems of farmers. He opined that debt on farmers is increasing as they are not getting the right price for their produce which is causing suicide of farmers. In the past 20 years over 3 lakh farmers committed suicide and he demanded that their rehabilitation should be made and their dependents must be given jobs. He also demanded from the government that it must ensure minimum income for farmers. Small and marginal farmers must be given Rs.5000 pension after 60 years. Ban of 10-year old diesel vehicle in Delhi-NCR must be lifted besides that tractors of farmers, pumping set and diesel engine used for agricultural works must be kept out of it. He demanded that the government must stop import of agriculture goods which are produced in abundance in India. Several countries are exporting such things under ASEAN free trade agreement which they even don't produce.


Farmer leaders are of the view that both the Centre and the state government failed to fulfill promises made by them to the farmers. They are demanding a joint session of Parliament to solve their problem.



BKU (Haryana) president Ratan Singh Mann, said, "the farming community that voted BJP to power feels cheated. Despite completing four years in power, the farmers’ protests emerging at different places are evidence enough that the government is not serious about their problems".

Another leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Yudhvir Singh said that Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is not in the interest of farmers but in the interest of insurance companies. He demanded that every farmer should be considered as a unit and it should be implemented voluntarily. Rs 19,000 crore is still pending to be paid to sugarcane farmers, despite the fact that season is over. The BJP promise to pay dues to sugarcane farmers in 14 days proved to be hollow. Dr Swaminathan Commission report for farmers is biting dust from past 15 years, forget about implementing it was not even discussed in Parliament.

The ‘Yatra’, meanwhile, will commence from Haridwar Tikait Ghat on September 23 and reach Kisan Ghat in New Delhi on October 2. Hundreds of thousands of farmers will walk all the way to Delhi along with their vehicles, including banned old tractors, farmers leaders said.


The yatra will be attended by  farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.