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A farmer family, on an average, earns Rs 6,426 per month; income attributable from farming is only Rs 3,078

Counerview Desk
This is the fifth article in the series “One Can Not Keep Mum Now!” sponsored by the non-political organization, Save Democracy Movement, and prepared by former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Gautam Thaker, environmental expert Mahesh Pandya, and economists Prof Rohit Shukla and Prof Hemantkumar Shah:
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The condition of farmers and agriculture in Gujarat is bad, even though tall talks of development are being recited. Farmers do not get viable price of their produce, and they are sinking into debts because of ever-increasing cost of the essential inputs for farming year after year. In Gujarat, there are 52 lakh farmers and 68 lakh agricultural labourers. Thus, 1.20 crore people are directly associated in farm activities. As per a simple calculation, the source of livelihood of approximately 3.60 crore people of Gujarat is derived from agricultural activities. This represents about 55% of the total population of the state.
Moreover, there are those working in storage/ preservation, transportation, marketing etc. of agricultural produce. They are another 10%. Further, another 10% people are associated in manufacture of fertilizers, insecticides, packaging bags, transportation and distribution. If we add to it ancillary occupations such as dairy and animal husbandry sectors, then this ratio will exceed 70% of the total population of the state.

Economically viable price of agricultural produce is not being realized:

In Gujarat, the farmers do not get viable price for their agricultural produce and the government is hardly worried about it. This year, the support price of groundnut was fixed, but it is not purchased at the fixed rate. On the other hand, the price of cotton, which was hovering around Rs 1,500 five ago, has now reduced to Rs 800 this year.
Although the production cost in farming is increasing, farmers do not get sustainable or reasonable realization and hence they are sinking into debt. The price of fertilizers, seeds and insecticides/ pesticides has risen exorbitantly because the government has reduced subsidies.
One farmer family, on an average, earns Rs 6,426 per month, and the income attributable from farming is only Rs. 3,078. The remaining income is earned from animal husbandry and salary from sundry labour and miscellaneous tasks. Thus, agriculture has not remained a main source of income.
Because of negligible realization from agricultural produce, farmers have been compelled to throw away their produce on public roads. Recently, farmers of Surat and Deesa threw their vegetable and grain produce on public roads.

Difficulties in obtaining power connection:

It is a fact that farmers in Gujarat are facing severe difficulties in getting the power connection. In 2017, some three lakh farmers are yet to get power connection. Looking at the pace of providing power connection, the remaining farmers will not get it even in coming five years.

Suicides committed by farmers sunk into heavy debts:

Farmers become debtors, and if they cannot bear debts, they commit suicide. In Gujarat, during the last 17 years, 10,000 farmers have committed suicide. Only during a span of three years, i.e. 2013-15, as many as 1,483 farmers committed suicides in Gujarat. If the party that came to power in 2014 had implemented the promises made by it, these suicides could have been avoided. During 2003-07, 483 farmers committed suicide, and during 2003-12, as many as 4,874 farmers committed suicide. The government is not providing assistance/ succour to dependent family members of the farmers who committed suicide.
On the other hand, it is a fact that farmers do not get loans at cheap rates. The Government of Gujarat made the announcement in the budget for the year 2017-18 to offer loans at 1%, to the farmers. For that, it has made provision for Rs 500 crore and has stated that 14 lakh farmers would benefit. It means that one farmer would get loan of just Rs 3,571 only. One really doubts the intention on the part of the Government.

No compensation is offered in the cases of accidents:

In spite of promulgating it for three times, the Modi Government could not amend the land acquisition Act. The Gujarat Government made amendments in the Land Acquisition Act overnight on the same line on which the Modi Government wanted to enact for the country. By making these amendments, the Gujarat Government has made a conspiracy to snatch the lands of the farmers at a very cheap rate. Arrangements have been made to take away farmers lands without their consent. In the year 2009, by passing the Act on SIR (Special Investment Region), the Government conspired to hand over farmers lands to industrialists at throw away prices.
Moreover, a new law was enacted on irrigation by the BJP Government in Gujarat which is aimed to ruin farming. If this Act is stringently implemented then farmers will be compelled to cease to do farming and will be forced to sell off their lands. Under this Act, farmers have been reduced to the stature of slaves of irrigation department officers. This Act reminds us of the British Govenment in pre-independence times which had enslaved us.

Cheating by the Government in Crop Insurance:

Farmers do not get money of crop insurance. The Modi Government has started the scheme under the new name of Fasal Vima Yojana (Crop Insurance Scheme) in place of the earlier/ old scheme. But farmers of Gujarat will not get benefits up to 100% of the losses suffered by them. In the year 2016, during the Kharif season, insurance under this scheme was taken for Rs 3.66 crore out of a total of 11 crore farmers in the country. Gujarat ranked 10th in the country as a whole in 2016, whn the amount of Rs 1795 crore was paid towards crop insurance. Assuring that 10 lakh out of 52 lakh farmers in Gujarat got the benefit of crop insurance; it works out to be Rs 17,950 per farmer. On the other hand, due to crop failure, farmers have to suffer very heavy losses. The Gujarat Government is cheating farmers this way.
In the Centres budget for last year, it was stated that in the coming five years, income of farmers would double. In this direction, the Govenment has not initiated any even step. The Government has not done anything at all in the direction of giving 50% compensation on the production cost for agriculture, which was suggested by the Swaminathan Committee.
During the war in the year 1965, the late Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri had coined the slogan of Jay Javan Jay Kishan. But this Govenment is neglecting or avoiding the interests of farming community.
This is a suicidal step. Increasing population of the country could have been supported or subsisted on the basis of Green Revolution and White Revolution. Due to the present Government's anti-farmer steps or policy, Toor Dal was being sold at Rs. 200 per kilo. Vegetables like onion, potatoes and tomatoes also touched the price level of Rs 80 to Rs 100 per kilo. Due to this, 45% of children and many more women in the state are suffering from lack of nutrition. For the future generation of Gujarat, clouds of disappointment and distress have started to spread out in all sides.

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