AIKS calls out the Centre’s ignorance about the agri sector

While answering Modi’s question about the lack of APMCs in Kerala, the farmers organisation questioned the state of farmers in other BJP-led states.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment of Kerala agriculture exposes his ignorance and attempt to mislead people, said the All India Kisan Sabha on December 26, 2020.

Responding to Modi’s question as to why there are no APMCs and mandis in Kerala, the AIKS explained that the state never passed an APMC Act in its Assembly (like Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur) due to the predominance of spices and plantation crops in the cropping pattern.

“Kerala agriculture primarily revolves around commercial crops which occupy about 82 percent of the cultivated area. Crops like coconut, cashew, rubber, tea, coffee, different spices like pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon etc are grown by farmers,” said AIKS President Ashok Dhawale in a press release.

Further, he said these crops have had their own specialized marketing channels sponsored by the concerned commodity boards under the Union Ministry of Commerce. Different Commodity Boards like Rubber Board, Spices Board, Coffee Board, Tea Board, and Coconut Development Board and a system of auctions are in place in Kerala.

Prices of these crops depend on the world market prices. Moreover, barring copra (Dry Coconut,) the central government does not even announce their Minimum Support Price (MSP.)

AIKS General Secretary Hannan Mollah said that despite auctions and a marketing system, different central governments over the last three decades have been diluting and systematically dismantling Commodity Boards though these crops earn huge foreign exchange.

“Proper funds are not allocated, appointments are not made and there have been instances of even Directors not being appointed for a long time. Defunding these Commodity Boards by different central governments has led to a situation where they are rendered ineffective,” he said.

The organisation thus argues that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Congress (Congress) governments have entered into unequal Free Trade Agreements like the India-ASEAN FTA putting farmers lives in danger by allowing dumping of cheap produce leading to price crash. Moreover, the implementation of neoliberal policies has accentuated the crisis leading to many farmers committing suicide in Kerala earlier. AIKS said that such deaths stopped only after the Left Democratic Front (LDF) came to power in 2006 and set up the Debt Relief Commission, waiving loans of distressed farmers.

The extent of marketed surplus of other crops like paddy or fruits or vegetables was never significant enough to require large and regulated wholesale markets like the mandis under the APMC Acts. Yet, there are also a large number of such markets, wholesale and retail governed by market rules notified by the state government.

“Kerala procures paddy at Rs. 2,748 per quintal that is Rs. 900 per quintal more than the central MSP of Rs. 1,848 per quintal. A royalty of Rs. 2,000 per hectare was also announced for rice cultivators spread across 2.05 lakh hectares. The state government announced base prices of 16 vegetables including tubers and is the only State to have done so,” they said.

Addressing Modi, the AIKS statement said that “rather than indulging in lies and deceit [you] should first try to match these steps and answer why the Commodity Boards are being rendered ineffective and why the Centre without consulting state governments is entering into unequal Free Trade Agreements.”

They also questioned why rice cultivators in BJP-ruled Bihar – that did away with APMCs in 2006 – are forced to make distress sales at Rs. 1000-1200 per quintal.

“Lies and deceit cannot mislead farmers any longer. Kerala farmers are also on struggle against the anti-farmer Acts with indefinite dharnas at state and district levels. Struggles will intensify if these Acts are not withdrawn,” said the AIKS.


Haryana farmers receive help from toll plaza workers who open gates
Farmer leaders call for Dec 26 as ‘Dhikkar Diwas’ & a corporate boycott
Boycott Ambani-Adani products, ‘Thali Bajao’ on December 27 during PM Modi’s Mann Ki Baat.
Rajasthan julloos at par with Delhi protests! Farmers observe relay fast
Karnataka farmers stand steadfastly with protesting Delhi farmers, will reach Delhi border on Dec 25
Are the new farm laws constitutional?



Related Articles