Maharashtra farm panel raps Agriculture Minister for ‘anti-farmer jibe’

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Mumbai, June 4 (IANS) After the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, a Maharashtra farm panel has castigated Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh for his recent ‘anti-farmer jibe’ here on Monday.

Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) Chairman Kishore Tiwari termed the Central Minister’s remarks — that the ongoing farmers agitation in the country was “a media stunt” — as “unfortunate and rubbing salt on the wounds of the dying agrarian community”.

“Instead of making such statements, the Union Minister should immediately look into the status of the government’s agrarian programmes and resolve the farmers’ distress,” he said.

He called upon Singh to urgently intervene as the bureaucrats — responsible for implementing the Prime Minster’s flagship programmes on credit flow, crop pattern shifting to national demands, input and output cost regulations, etc — have failed to perform, resulting in the latest farmers protest.

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Tiwari pointed out that the Maharashtra government has already announced the mega-farm loans waiver in June 2017 which would cover 90 per cent of the debt-trapped peasants.

“However, till date, bankers have not started giving fresh crop loans to the dying farmers thanks to the hostile farm credit policy of Nabard. The state government has also so far failed to ensure that farmers are paid a fair remunerative price for pulses and gram despite policy announcements,” he said.

Additionally, despite the loan package intended to benefit around six million farmers, timely and sufficient credit to the needy debt-trapped farmers for the current seasons has not materialized yet as the state government has no direct control over the functioning of the public sector banks, he pointed out.

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In a separate letter to Singh, the VNSSM chief referred to the National Commission on Farmers Chairman M.S. Swaminathan whose report focused on the growing farmland suicides and recommended solutions through a holistic national policy for farmers.

“Though the state government has started working on core issues raised in the Swaminathan Commission report, the ground reality is that the benefits of the government programmes did not reach small and needy farmers,” Tiwari rued.

Emphasising that farming is still a largely unorganized sector, there is a dire need to promote the farmers’ market where they can avoid middle-men and directly sell produce to the consumers at reasonable prices, he said.

Farmers across the country, including Maharashtra, are on a 10-day agitation to highlight their various pending demands which have resulted in shortages of essentials in the markets and consequently, skyrocketing of prices of vegetables, fruits, food-grains, milk and other items of daily requirements.

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–IANS

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