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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

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.

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“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)

Next Story

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning Help Shrimp, Vegetable Farmers Reap Good Harvest

Aibono works with about 500 farmers and has about 200 acres are under active cultivation

A team from Germany, the United States and France taught an artificial intelligence system to distinguish dangerous skin lesions from benign ones, showing it more than 100,000 images.
There are about 232,000 new cases of melanoma, and 55,500 deaths, in the world each year, the research added.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have entered aquaculture and agriculture farms in some states benefitting the farmers in cutting down their labour and the uncertainties of trial and error methods.

Thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies used by companies like the city-based Coastal Aquaculture Research Institute (CARI) and Aibono Smart Farming Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru, shrimp and vegetable farmers are able to increase their yield, cut their costs and have better market access.

V. Geetha, who practices aquaculture in Andhra Pradesh, told IANS: “Before signing up for CARI’s ‘FarmMOJO’ — an AI app-enabled farm advisor tool — we used to jot down the critical data in a notebook and act on it. But we wouldn’t know how much to feed the shrimp. There would either be over or under feeding.”

Since he tied up with CARI six months back, Prakash said, the company takes care of water quality tests in his pond and all the required data is available on his mobile with suggested action to be taken.

“Earlier the quantum of feed used would differ. Now we use the correct feed quantity, which has reduced the feed cost. The cost of medicines has also decreased. Earlier many would suggest several things. Now we go by what CARI says,” Prakash remarked.

“At 600,000 ton a year, India’s shrimp exports stand at Rs 45,000 crore annually. But no major technology was used so far in shrimp farming,” Rajamanohar Somasundaram, Co-Founder and CEO, CARI told IANS.

He said, now that the shrimp farming has been digitised, the data collected has been fed into the FarmMOJO programme.

“From the data, we have built machine learning. The software advises farmers on the use of feed, medicines and other things. The tool also helps in predicting the chances of a disease outbreak in the client farm based on the data available from other ponds,” he said.

The company has two revenue streams viz., subscription fee for FarmMOJO and commission on sales of products of partner companies. “At present, we have about 750 ponds spread over Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Odisha. We will soon enter West Bengal.This year we plan to cover 2,500 ponds,” Somasundaram said.

Farmers, India
An Indian woman helps her farmer husband irrigate a paddy field using a traditional system, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

In agriculture, Bengaluru-based Aibono Smart Farming Pvt Ltd and its AI product are helping the farmers in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu to match the supply and demand of hill vegetables.

“In India, the land holdings by farmers are small. So, precision farming could be used only if the supply and demand are matched. The other problem is, good price realisation if the yield is good. Farmers do not have a foresight on what to produce and when,” Vivek Rajkumar, Founder told IANS.

Rajkumar said fruits and vegetables are a $250 billion market in India far bigger than that of fast moving consumer goods. But there are no e-commerce players in this segment.

“Aibono is like a dairy cooperative. It assures farmers of buying every kilogram of their produce at a good price so that they can make money. The average land holding of the farmers in the network ranges between 0.5 to 1.5 acre,” Rajkumar said.

“We collect about 2,000 data points like weather, soil tests, photographs etc. Open farm is like a factory without a roof. It is dynamic. But farmer’s activities are routine and predictable. But agronomy has to be changed to dynamic mode,” Rajkumar said.

With farmers seeing increasing yield but not commensurate increase in realisation, Aibono decided to look at the demand side and started to study the consumption pattern.

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“At the retail end, people buy a fixed quantity of the vegetables. The buying pattern in predictable but it is the supply that varies,” Rajkumar said.

“We signed up with retailers and hotels assuring them of supplies. For the farmers, we started calibrating issue of seeds so that the supplies could be assured at certain quantities at a specified time,” Rajkumar said.

Aibono works with about 500 farmers and has about 200 acres are under active cultivation. Rajkumar said: “we about 300 retailers in its network and next year the number is set to grow several times. We charge Re 1 per kg as fee for service to the farmers.” (IANS)