Did you know parts of Karnataka received good rainfall only for three years since 2001? What is the status of the farmers in Karnataka? What can Bengaluru do to help them?
A solidarity meeting was held at the Institute of Agricultural Technologists on Queen’s Road on 13th November 2016 for farmers across Karnataka who are suffering from acute drought in the last two years. This meeting is part of an effort to engage those who influence public opinion, such as writers, academics, journalists and any other professional in towns/cities to the farmers’ struggle as part of the ‘Bengaluru stands with the farmers in distress’ campaign.
Chukki Nanjunda Swamy, Dr Vasu, Geethamma, K T Gangadhar, Prakash Kalmadi and other eminent people spoke about the problems the farmers are facing and how to overcome the drought with the help of Government.
Dr Vasu says Cauvery water is not available for agriculture. The people's representatives decided to retain drinking water but not for agriculture. Since 2001, till now, only three years Karnataka has got normal rainfall, and rest of the yers have been drought years for more than 30 talukas in Karnataka. Drought eats into economy slowly, and the effect is never understood by anyone including media. Electronic media never undersands the seriousness of the drought in rural areas. Crop loss compensation is not on record - it is called 'input subsidy' on record. There is a Draft Management Guidelines curated in 2009 by the central government, that explains what all should be done by the government during droughts, but the central government did not do anything so far. When the Supreme Court asked about this, the central government did something in hurry. Only 1.2% of the required funds were granted to MNREGA scheme - this was admitted by the central government in the supreme court.
Vasu assets that problems of agriculture cannot be addressed by the court battles alone - this should be a grassroot movement, invoving people form cities. Benagluru needs to involve in it. The demands are three:
1) A loan waiver for agriculture sector. Because old loans have not been paid so no new loans will be available, no turn over to do new sowing as there is no crop this year. Savings will go down. Suicide graph rises because of accumulated crisis, in the years after drought years. The loan to agrarian sector would be around 1,10,000 crores.
2) Scientific crop loss compensation for farmers. National Farmers Commission led by MS Swaminathan has recommended that the compensation should be 50% more than the production cost estimated by the state agriculture pricing committee, we demand that this be provided.
3) A special package should be given to Karnataka.
Listen to Dr Vasu here:
Agriculture is Indian culture. Those who want to protect Indian culture should protect Indian agriculture, says K T Gangadhar. Agriculture and agricultural community is in distress due to drought. Food crop production situation is not positive. Food security act is implemented in the country, but food production industry isn't protected. The assembly sessions being held in Belgaum should discuss agrarian distress, no amount of protests by farmers will be useful otherwise. When the argiculture products are not sold for good price in the market, and the investment the farmers put into agriculture doesn't return, farmers need loan waivers. Writing and talking about the agrarian community and its issues may help apread awareness among politicians, he adds.
Prakash Kalmadi explains that crop insurance must be helpful to the farmer. But it never does. Urban population can never understand the farmers' distress. All over India there is 5% extra rain across India, and production of agricultural products is excess across India, but Karnataka is staring at drought due to less rain. Toor dal and moong dal have gone below minimum support price. During UPA rule the minimum support price was increased by 10-15 % every year but these days there is only 3-4 % increase. Extending the coverage of food securities act to as many products as possible will be a win-win for all governments.