Farmers from a growing number of villages across Maharashtra are passing resolutions to go on strike from June 1, stop sale of any agrarian produce to begin with and not sow any crop if the government does not accept their demands.
There is widespread resentment among farmers because prices of commodities such as onions, vegetables and pulses have fallen below the cost of production, and the government has failed to implement effective procurement measures.
“Our generations have fought on the roads demanding the right price for our produce, but we haven’t got any justice. Hence, we want to try this smart and new idea of going on strike to awaken the government, which is not ready to take any farmer centric policy decision,” said Yogesh Rayate, a grape farmer from Nashik district.
He said he has been waiting for about a decade for the government to allow import of African grape varieties, which could reduce the production cost by half and have better acceptability in the international market.
Having spent Rs 70,000 as primary expenses on a two-acre brinjal plot, Rayate has been asking anyone and everyone to take the brinjals for free as the price in the local market has dropped to just about Rs 2.5 per kg. “About 40-50 villages from Nifad and Chandvad talukas have contacted me for joining the agitation,” said Rayate.
Farmers have demanded complete loan waiver, supply of free electricity to farms, implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee Report, full subsidy for micro irrigation systems and a minimum price of Rs 50 per litre for milk.
The Lasalgaon agriculture produce market committee, the largest in Asia for onions, had organised a meeting to take guidance from Dhanajay Jadhav from Puntamba village of Ahmednagar district, where the first resolution to go on strike was passed on April 3. Since then, the leaderless movement appears to have spread like wildfire, with about 70 villages having passed the resolution to join the strike.
The agitating farmers have decided to submit their resolutions en masse to the government on May 1, when it is mandatory for all the village panchayats to organise gram sabhas. Villages in vicinity of Lasalgaon have decided to join the agitation as onion prices have fallen to about half the cost of production. “Our teams will spread out from April 22 to different parts of the state to explain the demands to the villagers,” said Jadhav.
Farmers have decided to involve the cooperative dairies, which they claim have agreed to refuse sale of liquid milk and instead process it into various milk products from June 1.