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Indian Peasants Threaten Government with Nationwide Uprising against the Recent Killings in MP

The MSP is a fixed price at which the government purchases crops from farmers so they don’t suffer extreme losses in case of low yields

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Indian farmers
Indian farmers gather on a footpath during a protest in Chennai where they demanded profitable prices for their crops, June 9, 2017. Benar News
  • Peasant leaders across India threatened on Friday to launch nationwide protests against the recent killings of five farmers by police in Madhya Pradesh
  • The MSP is a fixed price at which the government purchases crops from farmers so they don’t suffer extreme losses in case of low yields
  • MSP is a fixed price at which the government purchases crops from farmers

Mumbai, June 06, 2017: Peasant leaders across India threatened on Friday to launch nationwide protests against the recent killings of five farmers by police in Madhya Pradesh state during an agitation over unfulfilled government promises.

On Tuesday, farmers in the central Indian state’s Mandsaur district had come out on the streets demanding loan waivers and a hike in the minimum support price (MSP), when police opened fire, killing five protesters and injuring dozens. The state’s government has confirmed that the five died from police fire.

The MSP is a fixed price at which the government purchases crops from farmers so they don’t suffer extreme losses in case of low yields.

“We have already issued an ultimatum to the BJP-government in Maharashtra for a total loan waiver and a hike in the MSP,” Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana (SSS), an influential union based in Maharashtra state, told BenarNews.

ALSO READ: 5,000 Plant Varieties sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species

“Leading peasant organizations will hold a meeting in New Delhi on July 16 to chalk out a strategy,” Shetti said, adding that “intensifying the stir was very much on the cards.”

Reports of sporadic violence, arson and road blockades by agitating farmers in Madhya Pradesh kept trickling through on Friday, despite a curfew clamped by the state government the day before.

On Thursday, the police detained Rahul Gandhi, the principal leader of the political opposition to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while he and his Indian National Congress (INC) party colleagues were attempting to enter Mandsaur district.

The rightwing nationalist BJP government accused opposition leaders of instigating the farmers.

“[The government is] sensitive to the needs of farmers and [is] doing everything to meet the farmers’ demands and end protests,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters in New Delhi, while declining to respond to questions on the farmers’ killings.

M. Venkaiah Naidu, a senior BJP leader, slammed opposition parties for what he described as “politicizing” the farmers’ anger.

“The protests are being fueled [by opposition parties] to tarnish the image the BJP government,” Naidu told reporters in south India’s Tamil Nadu state.

‘If the hay is dry’

But not many are buying BJP’s barbs at its opposition.

“If the hay is dry then a single match can set the entire field on fire. This is what is happening in the rural areas where farmers have become a dying breed because of lop-sided government policies,” political commentator Rakshit Sonawane told BenarNews.

A large majority of farmers voted for the BJP, which had promised them relief, during election campaigns, said scholar Pravin Nadkar, who has spent more than three decades in India’s hinterlands studying agrarian issues.

“The sinking of these promises is a slap on their hopes,” Nadkar told BenarNews.

“Moreover, there has been a tectonic shift by successive governments from agriculture to industrialization. Not that the farmer earlier lived an idyllic life, but today, even a big landholding farmer is facing the sting of this paradigm shift. And alienation is high,” he said.

More than 12,000 farmers in India commit suicide every year because of failed crops or unpaid debt, according to government figures.

“The government is totally indifferent toward the problems farmers face,” Kishore Tiwari, leader of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which has been documenting farmer suicides in Maharashtra, told BenarNews.

“Loan waiver for farmers was the BJP’s promise during all its election campaigns,” he added.

“A hike in the MSP is a key solution for the farmers’ woes, but the government has come out with an excuse that it does not have requisite infrastructure like gunny bags and warehouses to purchase from farmers at a high MSP. So the farmer is left with no exit other than agitate,” Tiwari said. (Benar News)

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Indian Agriculture status, Importance & Role In Indian Economy

The aggregate growth in the agricultural sector determines that the future of the agrarian economy is not bleak

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Agriculture
Agriculture in India. Wikimedia.
  • Despite people shifting their occupations from agriculture, UN states that India ranks second in the agricultural production in the world
  • India’s horticulture production has also increased

Sep 20, 2017: Indian agriculture is facing a huge crisis since many years. Despite continuous reports suggesting that the agrarian economy of India is getting affected, as people are shifting away from the agricultural sector and are moving towards industrial sector development, the food and agriculture organization of United Nations (UN) has stated that India ranks second in the agricultural production of the World. In the past 11 years, the country’s agricultural production has increased from $87 billion in the financial year 2004-05 to $322 billion in the fiscal year 2015-16.

Interestingly this is not just the only positive point being witnessed about the agricultural situation of the nation. The country’s horticulture production has also increased with the passage of time. The horticultural production includes fruits, vegetables, plantation crops, and spices. The increasing demand of fruits and vegetables has augmented the production estimate to 295 million tonnes in 2016-17, which is 3.2 % higher than the production in 2015-16.

Also Read: WHO says Millions of People are Dying Pre-mature Deaths Due to Non-Communicable Diseases.

Earlier in May, the agriculture ministry released a second advance estimate of horticulture production, stating that the farm area under the horticulture crops has recorded an increase. The increase was from 245 lakh hectares of farm in 2015-16 to 249 lakh hectares in 2016-17. The Indian economy’s earnings from agriculture as compared to the service sector has been absolutely great. The net export from agriculture was noted $16 billion, and those from the commercial service were 9% in 2014.

When the country is facing even greater challenges like farmer suicides, protests, and monsoon failure, figures like these tend to bring smiles on our faces, even if it is for a short time. The aggregate development can never alleviate the plight of farmers.
The percentage growth may satisfy the government and us both, but does it really satisfy the farmers? A wiser approach like good law and order towards the handling of problems and crisis should be taken, and then only can there be a better future in the agriculture.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.

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WeFarm- a Farmer to Farmer Digital Network – is Helping Farmers in remote villages of Kenya

WeFarm helps connect farmers via Text Messages

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A farmer herds his cattle at sunset near Kisumu, Kenya, Feb. 2, 2008.
A farmer herds his cattle at sunset near Kisumu, Kenya, Feb. 2, 2008. VOA

When she woke up one morning in February, Catherine Kagendo realized that one of her cows could not stand.

“It was lying on its side, had lost its appetite and was breathing heavily,” she told Reuters from her farm in Meru, in eastern Kenya.

With her husband, she decided to turn to WeFarm, a text-based network of small-scale farmers, for help.

Within an hour, their text — “one of my lactating cows cannot stand” — generated a flurry of suggestions, from “feed your cow with minerals rich in calcium” to “make sure the cow shed is clean and well-drained so the animals don’t slip.”

“I realized our cow had milk fever, so gave it calcium-rich feed and it was standing again within hours,” Kagendo explained.

She is one of many Kenyan small-scale farmers who lack good information — mostly due to a lack of internet access — on how to manage problems from dry spells to diseases, local farm experts say.

As a result, such farmers often lose their harvest or animals, they said.

But WeFarm, a farmers’ network launched in Kenya in 2014 and more recently expanded to Uganda and Peru, allows people to ask a question by text message and receive advice from their peers.

The service, whose Scottish co-founder Kenny Ewan describes it as “the internet for people with no internet,” is free to use and only requires a mobile phone.

Farmers text questions to a local number, and WeFarm transmits the message to users with similar interests in the area, tapping into their knowledge.

“We want farmers to get answers to their problems without needing to access the internet, so the information is available to all,” said Mwinyi Bwika, head of marketing at WeFarm.

Although the platform also exists online, over 95 percent of users choose to use it offline, he said.

Information gap

Kagendo said that when her animals were ill or her maize crops too dry, she used to have to hire an extension officer to help solve the problem.

“But we had to pay a fee ranging from 500 to 2,000 Kenyan shillings ($5-$20), and most of the time the officer didn’t even explain their diagnosis,” she said.

That cut into her family’s income and left them no better able to understand the diseases facing their cattle and their crops.

“We cannot even afford a smartphone to go online, so finding credible information was near impossible,” she said.

According to Bwika, small-scale farmers often lack the information they need because of a lack of cash — most live on less than a dollar a day — as well as poor internet connection and low literacy levels.

“Ewan realized that farmers living just a few miles from each other were facing the same challenges, but with no way to communicate about them. So, he created a platform to connect them,” Bwika said.

Joseph Kinyua, another farmer from Meru who grows vegetables, said he spends at least 30 minutes per day using WeFarm.

“It’s taught me anything from using pest control traps to ensuring that my sprinklers don’t put out too much water,” he said. “And I know the methods are proven and tested by other farmers.”

The knowledge has helped improve the quality of the kale he grows, he said, enough that “I can now sell a kilo at the market at 70 shillings [$0.70] compared to 50 [$0.50] previously.”

Preventing problems

While the platform might receive dozens of replies to a question, it only sends out to the user a selection of answers judged correct, Bwika said.

But it uses the questions and advice received to help track disease outbreaks or extreme weather spells, and shares those insights with governments and non-governmental organizations, Bwika said.

“In doing so, we hope to prevent disease outbreaks and track problems before they occur,” he said.

Not everyone shares this optimism, however.

Mary Nkatha, a farmer from Meru, said she found it hard to implement some of the recommendations she received from WeFarm without the practical guidance of an expert.

“If I am told to inject my cow with something, how do I make sure I do it in the right place? And where do I find the equipment?” she asked.

Fredrick Ochido, a Kenya-based consultant on dairy farming, also worries that the platform may be entrenching farmers’ poor use of technology, rather than helping them keep up with new trends.

The WeFarm platform has over 100,000 current users in Kenya, Uganda and Peru, and its operators hopes to reach one million farmers in the next year. They also aim to expand the effort to other countries, including Tanzania. (VOA)

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Ram Temple at Ayodhya is a part of the BJP Agenda, says Amit Shah

Ram temple will be constructed at Ayodhya either through talks, mutual settlement or through a court verdict

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Ram Temple
BJP National President Amit Shah on Monday said a grand Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya. Wikimedia
  • The way for construction of Ram Temple will be either through mutual agreement, talks or through a court decision
  • Shah said aside from the reserves allocated to Uttar Pradesh, the Union government had offered its coffers for the state to prosper
  • Shah mocked the media speculation that Shivpal Singh was hitching himself to the party bandwagon.

New Delhi, August 1, 2017: On Monday, Amit Shah, BJP’s National President said a fabulous Ram temple is going to be built in Ayodhya, the route for which can be through mutual agreement, talks, or a decision of the court.

On his visit’s last day to the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Shah addressed the media and said that establishment of this Ayodhya temple was the agenda’s part of Bharatiya Janata Party.

He complimented the government of Yogi Adityanath at the state level and its performance and told everyone that within three months, the governance had made people observe a noticeable transition.

Also read: BJP wants thorough probe for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, also wants him to resign for ‘involvement in PWD scam’

“It is a coincidence that as I speak to you, three years of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and three months of the Yogi Aditynath government in the state have been completed,” the chief of BJP said, complimenting the performance of both of them.

Shah mocked the speculation of media that Shivpal Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s younger brother, and senior leader of Samajwadi Party (SP), was trying to hitch himself to the bandwagon of the party.

Accompanied by state BJP chief and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Shah also made a claim that Modi had appeared as the most renowned Indian Prime Minister ever all thanks to his eradication of black money, courageous decisions, and good governance.

Amit Shah, BJP National President. Wikimedia

Shah also endeavored to end the supposition about Maurya of being moved as a Union minister to the Centre, saying that when the chief of a state party was chosen, Maurya would allocate all his time to the government at state.

He also made an attempt to rubbish the charges put by the opposition by saying that having dinner at a Yadav worker’s house, he was singling out politics on caste.

“Sonu Yadav is a party booth worker, and just as I go to eat at any other place, I went to his house and had food… No politics should be read in this,” he further added.

Shah put the blame on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as well as the former Samajwadi Party governments at the state level of the turmoil in Uttar Pradesh, saying that they had together presided over frauds of Rs 12 lakh crore. “There is not one finger raised at us as the government is working with transparency,” he said.

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The chief of BJP said there did not exist any of party’s names in those Panama leaks, and the Special Investigation Team was examining the leaks of Panama Papers in any circumstance.

Shah said aside from the reserves allotted to Uttar Pradesh, the Union government had offered its coffers so that the state can grow and develop.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025