YAVATMAL: Hundreds of farmers and farm widows from Western Vidarbha participated in 'Kisano ki chai pe chintan' programme at Maregaon, 70km from Yavatmal, on Monday. "We hope to draw Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attention towards assurance given by him to farmers three months ago at village Dabhadi," said a farm activist at the meeting organized by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS).
"Modi raised hopes of the farming community during his 'Chai Pe Charcha' meeting held at Dabhadi during the Lok Sabha election campaign. He talked about a better deal for farmers, value-addition to cotton and increasing income levels to tide over the distress that cultivators of this region are living with," said VJAS President Kishore Tiwari. "Modi should not ignore farmers like the UPA government after being elected," he said.
Showing concern for farmers, Modi has asked union minister Nitin Gadkari to prepare a time-bound programme to end the farmers' suicide crisis, said Tiwari. The 'chintan' meeting was part of this exercise, to get views of all stakeholders. Farmers, tribals, NGOs and local politicians listed the hardships faced by the farmers and solutions expected from the government.
The charter of demands/topics discussed included remunerative support price to cotton and soybean to match production cost with a 50% profit margin, ensuring new crop loans to farmers after waiving existing debt, ensuring new agriculture technology and irrigation facility to farmers, financial assistance to farm widows and free higher education to their children, clubbing MNREGA with farm activities and giving wages for 100 days work as grant.
About 600 farmers, including 200 women, sipped hot tea and discussed their future at the meet. "While they are happy about Modi becoming PM, people urgently need a healing touch," said Tiwari. Speakers, including agricultural experts, recalled Modi's assurance of a minimum support price for cash crops like cotton and soyabean, loan waiver for farmers, regulator to curb exploitation by seed, fertilizer and pesticide companies, waiver of power bills and other issues.
"Some women speakers sought rehabilitation of over 10,000 widows and their families who are victims of the erroneous policies of the UPA government. Others wanted direct subsidies for new technology and irrigation, help with agronomic practices and related aspects to improve the lot of farmers," Tiwari added.