RS members express concern over farmers' plight

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New Delhi, Apr 28 (UNI) Samajwadi Party member Amar Singh today lamented the pathetic condition of the poor farmer who was losing the battle for survival against growing corporatisation of Indian agriculture.

Initiating the discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the agriculture ministry, Mr Singh drew attention to the plight of farmers saying those from Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh were being forced to kill themselves, while in Tamil Nadu rice and coconut growers were indulging in distress sales, as were sugarcane farmers in Uttar Pradesh due to unremunerative prices.

Similarly, farmers in Vidarbha and Rayalseema were commiting suicide in large numbers following crop failure.

Starvation was acute in the country, Mr Singh said, noting that India ranked an abyssmal 128th on the Global Hunger Index even 60 years after Independence, showing how it fared on food security.

He said farm corporates such as Reliance, Cargill, Adani and ITC were selling vegetables and foodgrains and were pocketing profits. Agribusiness was being promoted at the cost of traditional farming. He demanded strengthening of the PDS system and said it should be made universal.

Regarding food imports, the SP member questioned the need to import rotten Australian wheat when Indian farmers could have been given a higher MSP. On genetically modified crops, Mr Singh said these crops were coming in deadly forms and the country's rich bio-diversity was being discarded.

''India will become the dumping ground of GM crops,'' he warned.

Mr Motilal Vora, INC, while lauding the loan waiver scheme wanted the benefits be extended to those who had paid off their loans or those owning more than 2 hectares of land.

Procurement of foodgrains by FCI was inaedquate, he said and cited the case of wheat arrivals at mandis exceeding the procurement by FCI.

He said the Manmohan Singh Government had reduced customs and excise duties to bring down inflation and warned against hoarding.

But states were getting food for the APL consumers and then blaming the Centre for decreasing the PDS quota, he added.

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