Farm bills: Maharashtra farmers participate in nationwide protests
Protests will be intensified against corporate companies that are expected to benefit from the bills
Farmers in Maharashtra participated in nationwide protest against the farm bills passed in Parliament early this week. Farmers burnt copies of the bills and demanded them to be withdrawn at the earliest.
The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have extended their support to the protest, which will be spread headed by farmers’ organisations, including Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha (ABKS) and Lok Sangharsh Morcha among others in Maharashtra. Members of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, led by former MP Raju Shetti, burnt copies of the bills in Kolhapur and have announced they will intensify the protest if the bills are not withdrawn by the Central government.
“Shetkari Sanghatana has always been against the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs), and our leader late Sharad Joshi used to call these committees ‘abattoirs’ of the farmers. However, we do not endorse the way the existing system is being thrashed out by the Central government. This is an attempt to make farmers slaves in the hands of industrialists,” Shetti said.
He said that this was the first step towards the privatisation of Food Corporation of India and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (Nafed), who purchase about 30% of farm produce in the country.
Shetti has announced that the protests will be intensified against corporate companies that are expected to benefit from the bills.
ABKS will begin the protest at 1pm Friday. “At least four or five organisations that have supported the nationwide protest are participating in them in 21 districts in Maharashtra. We will burn copies of the bills and hand over our memorandums to the district collectors in peaceful manner, ” said Ajit Nawale, general secretary, ABKS.
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Nawale said that though APMCs have become dens of corruption and monopoly, the bills passed by the Centre are more dangerous for the farmers. “At least the farmers have some mechanism in place to market their produce at a reasonable price in the form of APMCs today. The bills passed in Parliament are the first step towards handing over farm marketing to a few industrial houses who will decide the prices of the produce. Though the Centre has been claiming these bills are a way to be free from the clutches of APMC, the government has freed itself from the responsibilities of fair and remunerative prices to the farmers. In Maharashtra, the Fadnavis government had brought bills to regularise APMCs, but it could not set up an alternative mechanism to the APMCs to give farmers remunerative prices for their produce. It was a failed attempt,” he said.