Farmers across the country to stage 'dharna' on Feb 26

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New Delhi, Feb 6 (UNI) Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement will stage a dharna outside the Parliament House during the Budget Session to protest against the ruling UPA's attitude towards the farmers of the country, who, they alleged, are being forced to commit suicide because of the wrong policies of the government.

''Government must mend its ways,'' National President of Bhartiya Kisan Union Mohinder Singh Tikait said, adding that when the Sensex fell a few hundred points, the whole government machinery reacted to it but more than 1,50,000 farmers have committed suicide so far and the government is unmoved by it.

Speaking at a press conference here today, Chairman of Punjab State Agricultural Marketing Board and President of Bharti Kissan Union Punjab Ajmer Singh Lokhowal said ''the government's inadequate policies have resulted in the poor conditions of the farmers.'' Loans given to farmers by the private financers, sahukars as well as the nationalised banks have doubled and tripled over the years, which the farmers are not able to repay even after selling their lands, thus they are forced to commit suicides, Mr Lokhanwal said.

''Since farming is treated as an industry now, the government should ensure long-term policies for purchase of agricultural lands to be produced by the farmers. Like in foreign countries, the rate of purchase of a particular crop should be decided ahead of the time seeds are sown, which would help the farmers to decide which crop has to be sown,'' Mr Lokhowal said.

He further said the government must buy the promised quantity of crops from the farmers directly to avoid exploitation of farmers by the big industrial houses and so that the middlemen's commission is retained by the farmers.

Speaking about the country's agriculture production, Mr Teikat said the country, which had buffer stock of 140 days in the year 2003-04 has now become a wheat importing country. In the year 2001-02, the country had exported 12.4 million tons of wheat and now it has to import wheat.

The government itself is the root cause of such situation of the country. It had imported wheat at the rate of Rs 16 per kg, wheras they are not prepared to give Rs 10 per kg as Minimum Support Price (MSP) to the domestic farmers, Mr Tikait added.

The goverment should take note of the situation urgently and stop acquiring the fertile land from the farmers for the purpose of industry, he stressed.

The Co-ordinator of the Farmers movement Yadhvir Singh said they have raised several demands, which include to waive off all loans to the farmers and to give fresh loans to start afresh with nominal interest so that the farmers can pay back.

''The trend world over is from Industry to Agriculture but here the trend is shifting from Agriculture to Industry.

The barren land should be developed for industrial purposes,'' Mr Singh said, adding that it is the government policies, which are ruining the Agricultural industry and abbetting corruption.

The dharna, which will be staged on February 26, soon after the Budget Session starts will be a way to put forward all demands of the farmers of the country, which includes waiver of loans to farmers, giving of fresh loans at nominal prices, price fixing, five year policies and that government should buy the promised quantities directly from the farmers .

UNI SNG PY ht1955

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