Farmer unions-organised Minimum Support Price (MSP) protests and seminars voiced hope that the campaign week will raise awareness about the need for a legal guarantee on crop procurement.
After successfully conveying contentions with each of the three farm laws over the course of the farmer’s struggle during Covid-19, farmers now aim to educate the masses about MSP. As such, seminars, discussions, meetings and even a jal satyagraha has begun from April 11.
“We hope with this campaign to revive the cardres that were neutralised after December and to tackle misconceptions against legal MSP like dangers to GDP etc. Mass media is the best way to contact the people, so we have started these campaigns to provide this information in the public forum,” said farmers umbrella body Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) member Ashutosh.
The leaders demanded the MSP based on the Swaminathan Commission report, i.e. one and a half times the comprehensive cost (C2). Officials intentionally went into theory details to ensure that people understand the gravity of the demand that farmers have asked for since before the farm movement. Accordingly, they asked local protests to talk about crops that do not have MSP and require the same to breakeven.
Karnataka’s Mysore farmers came through on this advice by piling grain sacks outside the District MP Pratap Sinha;s office. SKM meber Yogendra Yadav also attended the event. Later, farmers held a seminar in the city to discuss MSP.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin, Kovilpatti and Ettayapuram districts observed protests as an MSP guarantee campaign. Women also participated and distributed pamphlets for the same. Similarly, Punjab’s Hoshiarpur, Muktsar and Tarantaran district farmers submitted a memorandum to authorities and carried out awareness rallies.
The jal satyagraha in Madhya Pradesh too reached Barwani by April 14.
A legal guarantee of MSP was one of the six key issues during the 11 rounds of talks between the SKM and the Centre. It was also one of the key assurances made to the SKM the government letter on December 9, 2021, on the basis of which the Delhi protest sites were vacated. After four months, the government is yet to form a committee for discussing the legal guarantee of MSP.
Earlier, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar said that the government is awaiting names from the SKM for setting up the committee. However, farmers tressed that they had sent a reply regarding the same on March 24 and then on March 30 that farmers wanted to know about the mandate and tenure of the committee. It sent the government five questions. They were:
1. What will be the TOR (Terms of Reference) of this committee?
2. Apart from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which other organisations, persons and functionaries will be involved in this committee?
3. Who will be the chairman of the committee and what will be its functioning?
4. How much time will the committee get to submit its report?
5. Will the recommendation of the committee be binding on the government?
“This email was resent on March 30. So that there would be no excuse in this regard, on April 1, we made this letter public through the press. But today [April 14], even after three weeks, we have not received any answer to these questions,” said SKM leader Darshan Pal.
He urged Tomar to send clarifications on these points at the earliest so that the farmers can decide whether to participate in the committee. He said that deliberately spreading confusion among the public without answering these questions raises questions about the government’s intentions.
“The SKM again clarifies that unless we are fully aware of the nature and agenda of this committee, it will not be worthwhile to participate in any such committee,” said SKM leader Hannan Mollah.
The MSP campaign will conclude on April 17.