Different organisations espousing the cause of farmers, inlcuding the ones with leftist leanings, organised a rally and march on Friday to protest against the agricultural policies of the central and state governments and maintained that these were "against the interests of the small and marginal farmers."
These organisations claimed that the agricultural pricing regime did not seem to be aware of farmers' problems and that the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat and paddy were "inadequate".
The input costs had increased manifold but the MSPs had gone up by just a couple of rupees in the last few years, farmer leaders said in a joint statement after the protest.
The farmers also rejected the new agriculture policy formulated by the Punjab State Farmers Commission on the ground that the public-private partnership proposed therein was not in the best interests of peasants as it would open the markets for "open exploitation of the farming community by private companies."
"The talk on contract farming may benefit farmers initially but they will become pawns in the hands of private companies in the long run. Currently, they are exploited by commission agents; then they will be exploited by these companies," the farmer leaders claimed.
The draft of the new agriculture policy was recently submitted to the state government by the farmers commission chairman GS Kalkat. The draft lays stress on diversification and shifting area under paddy cultivation to crops consuming lesser water.
"The central government has time and again spoken of doing away with the MSP regime and this is exactly what Kalkat is proposing but in an indirect manner," they said.
During the protest, the leaders also demanded the release of all 11 farmers arrested in connection with the death of a Punjab Police official near Geobala village in Tarn Taran in March.
Those who participated in the protest included Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Jamuhri Kisan Sabha, Border Area Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Kirti Kisan Union, Pendu Mazdoor Union of Punjab and other groups.