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3 reasons, 2 demands, and 1 proposed solution for the Madhya Pradesh farmers’ agitation

Shruti Kedia
posted on 13th June 2017
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Over the past 16 years, more than 20,000 farmers have committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh. Though 2016 brought bountiful rains, it failed to provide relief to the farmers. Given the massive range of issues faced by the agrarian community, it is important for both the government and the public to work together to revive India's agriculture sector.

With no fresh case of reported violence in Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called off his fast for farmers on June 11, a day after he began the exercise.

Mandsaur city and Pipliamandi town, in Madhya Pradesh, wear a glum look in the aftermath of curfew and violent protests. Farmers agitation and alleged police firing, which left five people dead last week, have left the state in disarray.

Speaking about the recent 10-day farmers agitation in Madhya Pradesh and nearby Maharashtra state, noted economist and author Shankkar Aiyar said,

Agriculture needs far more attention than it is getting now. Indian agriculture system needs a total overhaul, starting with the cropping pattern and restructuring of the business model of farming.

Over the past year, the agrarian community across India have staged various protests to highlight their grievances. The year 2016 brought bountiful rains, yet it failed to provide relief to the farmers. Further, as RBI noted, the transitory effects of demonetisation lingered on in price formations, which resulted in fire sales and price drops.

Although Finance Minister Arun Jaitley increased the budget allocation by 24 percent for agriculture and rural development in Budget 2017-18, investment continues to be a dominant problem for the agrarian community. Hence, with continued distress, reported farmers’ suicides and droughts it becomes imperative for the public to help mitigate the ongoing farmers' crises.

Why is the agrarian community in distress?

The rain-dependent nature of the agriculture sector continues to pose a major problem for the agrarian community. The Ministry of Agriculture noted, “Deficient and uneven rainfall in the last two agricultural years adversely affected overall agricultural production.” Despite government interventions, only 66 million hectares against 140 million hectares in India have access to irrigation. Further, overuse of ground and borewell water have now left the land parched.

Unlike Tamil Nadu, last year Madhya Pradesh received normal rainfall, only three percent short than the 100-year average. Yet, despite an agriculture economy growth of 4.1 percent, the framers failed to make profits.

Fifty-two-year-old Jaichand wonders about his family's future and worries about his daughter’s impending wedding given his current financial condition. Echoing the sentiment of farmers across the region, he says,

Sixty percent of tur daal went without sale. No one purchased my pulses in the farmers market. Outside produce and imports caused us our customers. The government offers to buy our grains, but not at a good price. Payments also get delayed by months.

Yogendra Yadav:

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