Punjab: Protesting farmers dumped vegetables, milk and other farm produce on roads and blocked supplies to cities as they launched a 10-day protest to press their demands, including loan waiver and right price for their crops.

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The protest is against the alleged anti-farmer policies of the central government, the impact of which has not been much in the first few days.
Talking with The New Indian Express, Balbir Singh Rajewal, President of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Punjab Unit said, “This decision has been taken by farmers association and unions of all the states due to the skyrocketing cultivation prices and the union government is doing nothing to control them, thus now farmers have no option left. See the diesel prices have been constantly going up for the last more than a fortnight. The farmers use tractors and diesel generators to irrigate their fields thus their production cost like further increase.”

The farmers all over the city and the nearby villages drove down to the office of the Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma, where they handed their tractor keys to mark the protest against the soaring diesel prices which has only added to their woes and the release of their Rs 900 crore that is due from sugar mills.

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The protest has extended to the level wherein the farmers’ bodies have stopped supplying milk and vegetables in the cities and have asked the consumers to buy it directly from them after coming to their villages.
A federation of 130 farmer organizations, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh came up with this protest to press for their demand for Rs 18,000 income per acre for each farmer on monthly basis.

Speaking to The Tribune, Jasbir Singh Litan, the Kapurthala District President, said, “There is a big difference in the rate of crops being received by the farmers and traders. A farmer is selling his crop at the rate of Rs 5-6, whereas the same crop is being sold by the traders at a price of Rs 20-25. The consumer as well the farmers have to bear the brunt while the traders are enjoying the benefit just because of ill-policies of State Government who hasn’t fixed the crop prices.”
“The price of diesel, which is an important input cost of cultivation, has risen so much that it has gone out of the reach of the poor farmers,” he added.

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The government appeared dismissive of the protest. Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that some organization is using the ongoing strike to get fame in media. Speaking to news agency ANI, Singh said, “There are around 12 to 14 crore farmers in the country. It is normal for any farmer’s organisation to have 1000-2000 farmers and they have to do something extraordinary to get the media’s attention.”

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The farmers of our country have received much importance, neither to their work and nor to their produce. If it wouldn’t have been for them, all our industries would have been shut. What our Government needs to realize is that we need to uplift the standard of our farmers to improve the conditions of our country.

Our Agriculture sector has always been neglected even though a majority of our workforce is employed in it. Right now, we don’t only need a full-fledged policy but and execution of that policy which helps in the favor of our farmers. What they earn is negligible in terms of how hard they work. If it wouldn’t have been them, we all would have been sleeping empty stomach. And, instead of our Government thanking them and doing their bit, is blaming them for seeking attention. They need to understand that this blame game is not going to prevent farmer suicides, only helping them will.

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