Ghata Mukt Kheti, Karz Mukt Kisan, Zahar Mukt Bhojan , Atmahatya Mukt Bharat

Objectives:

The four overarching objectives of agricultural policy in our context are:

  • Food security and sovereignty: self-reliance in essential foodgrains and seeds;
  • Economic viability: farming should provide dignified livelihood to farmers and their families;
  • Social Equity: addressing the needs and concerns of the most vulnerable and excluded farmers including small, tenant, landless, women, dalit and adivasi farmers; and
  • Ecological sustainability: safe food with preservation of soil, water and seed.

Indian farmers have gone through one of the worst periods since independence in the last five years. The combined effect of natural disasters (two nation-wide droughts and other calamities in the backdrop of climate change), collapse in domestic and international prices of agricultural produce and a series of anti-farmer policy decisions (demonetization, curbs on cattle trade and trader friendly import-export policy) have led to widespread rural distress. Instead of addressing the crisis, this government has sold pipe dreams like ‘doubling of farmers income’ and offered last minute token income support.

Indian farmers desperately need and deserve a new deal at this point in history and for the next five years, this must be a key national priority. This effort has to begin with the central government, supplemented by state governments, society and farmers themselves. It cannot be limited merely to a loan waiver or a token cash transfer. It must address all the four objectives mentioned above. In particular, income security for all farm households has to be the cornerstone of any strategy for agrarian reforms.  All the components of agricultural policy (price, credit, marketing, trade, technology, extension and disaster relief)  should be oriented in such a way that a farm household (including landed, tenant, landless cultivator, forest produce gatherer, cattle rearer, fish-worker, etc. as per the National Farmers Policy 2007) can earn at least as much as minimum wages for agricultural worker for two persons (currently around Rs. 18,000 per month).

Action points

9.1 Statutory assurance of remunerative prices (at least 50% on C2 Cost of Cultivation) for all farm produce through expanded and decentralised procurement, deficit payment and market intervention as per ‘The Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities Bill, 2018’ endorsed by the AIKSCC.

9.2 One-time comprehensive loan-waiver, along with a National Debt Relief Commission and timely and effective relief from disaster related distress as per ‘The Farmers’ Freedom from Indebtedness Bill, 2018’ endorsed by the AIKSCC.

9.3 Promote ecological agriculture on a large scale, to bring down cost of production, to conserve and regenerate productive resources like land, water, forests and agro-diversity and to increase food safety and nutrition security. Reorient research and extension accordingly.

9.4 Stop forcible land acquisition and ensure full implementation of Land Acquisition (RTFCLARR) Act 2013 in all states.

9.5  Remove the control of trade lobby and anti-farmer bias of agricultural produce trade policy and remove agriculture related deals from Free Trade Agreements like RCEP.

9.6 Support cooperative form of organizing agriculture (from input and credit procurement to farming, processing and marketing of output) by way of farmers’ collectives, Farmer Producer Organisations and farmers’ direct marketing efforts.

9.7 Reduce the cost of inputs, especially green inputs, for farmers either by regulating industry price or offering subsidy directly to farmers or allowing special works to augment agricultural infrastructure under MNREGS.

9.8 Address the menace of stray animals by removing all legal and vigilante-imposed restrictions on cattle trade, compensating farmers for destruction of crops by wild and stray animals and supporting animal shelters.

9.9 Provide ‘Kisan Cards’ to all farmers in the country including tenant farmers, sharecroppers, women farmers, adivasi farmers, landless cultivators and livestock-rearers that entitles them to agricultural credit from banks, crop insurance, disaster compensation, and all government schemes.

9.10 Ensure implementation of land ceiling laws, transfer of surplus land and other available land to landless poor and Dalits, provide land rights and pattas to women and mutation of land in the name of women successors.