|Farmers' protest against demonetization in Surat|
The farmers of South Gujarat have taken up cudgel against the Government of India's controversial decision to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, saying it has led to severe cash crunch, leading to complete failure on their part to begin farming for the winder season and sell their agricultural produce, especially vegetables.
Warning that if cash crunch does not end immediately, says a memorandum forwarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with a copy to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the winter season will be a “failure” for the farmers, who are already suffering because of low prices in the monsoon season.
Pointing out that they “will be further distressed”, the memorandum, submitted to the Surat district collector following a well-attended vehicle rally under the banner of Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKS), says, “If the crops of vegetables, wheat, sugarcane and paddy are affected there will be an unprecedented rise in the prices which will affect the entire population of the country.”
It adds, “Owing to lack of cash liquidity and difficulty in procuring essential items there may be issues of law and order that also arise.” As for vegetable growers, the memorandum adds, they cannot sell their produce in the market due to the cash crunch, as there are no buyers.
What has made things worse, the memorandum says, is that the “freeze” imposed by the Government of India on district cooperative banks (DCBs) and their financial transactions.
“This put the cooperative societies are in a bind: they cannot turn down the farmers and their produce, but they also cannot pay them the cash for the produce”, it underlines.
You are aware that the monsoon crops of cotton, groundnut, sugarcane and paddy have reached the markets. At present, even the traders of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) do not have the capacity to buy these crops.
“Currently the farmers are scrambling in order to meet the daily cash requirements for the winter crop such as seeds, fertilizers, fuel and wages”, the memorandum says.
Pointing out that even today most Gujarat villages do not have branches of nationalized banks, and very few of the rural people have the ability to operate accounts, the memorandum says, “Even the few who do have accounts, have them with the branches of DCBs.”
It adds, “The accounts of the milk cooperatives and the agricultural cooperatives are also linked to district cooperative banks.”
In this circumstance, the memorandum says, “The government’s action of keeping the district cooperative banks outside the purview of financial transactions smacks of distrust on farmers, milk producers and cooperatives.”
It adds, “On account of this ill-thought decision the farmers, maldharis (milk producers) and agricultural labourers in rural Gujarat have been reduced to the plight of beggars despite having money on them.”
“With a cash withdrawal limit of Rs. 3,000 against a daily requirement of lakhs of rupees daily in the peak agricultural season is making it difficult for the farmers to continue their agricultural operations”, the memorandum says.
Against this backdrop, the memorandum asks Modi to immediate lift the freeze imposed on the DCBs. “If there is severe distrust of the DCBs then use their infrastructure to open counters of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on their premises”, it underscores.