Gujarat farmers draw attention towards continuing agrarian crisis

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New Delhi, Dec 12 (ANI): Scores of farmers took part in a 'Kisan Swaraj Yatra', a rally, which began from Sabarmati in Gujarat and culminated at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Rajghat here on Saturday, to draw the attention of the government towards the issues concerning the farmers and the continuing agrarian crisis in India.

The farmers and representatives of the 'Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)' later met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and briefed her about their movement and demands.

Gandhi was briefed about the Kisan Swaraj Policy, which is a charter of demands by ASHA to ensure sustainable farming, protection of the livelihoods of the farmers and farm workers and food safety and security of the nation.

Kavitha Kuruganti, a representative of ASHA, informed media persons about the motive of the rally, which travelled through 100 districts and 32 cities.

"It is the responsibility of the government to guarantee of income to every rural family of the country. The second demand is that farm aids should be non-toxic and conserve the resources," said Kuruganti.

"It should not be such that it can't be sustained and the quality of the farmland becomes poor or the water gets polluted since these are sources of livelihood for them. The third demand is that government should not take away the resources and rights of the farmers," she added.

Senior Communist Party of India leader D. Raja, who was present during the rally in New Delhi, said their party had reservations about the Seed Bill and the Pesticides Management Bill.

"Definitely these are the very genuine issues concerning farmers, even we don't agree with the content of Seeds Bill (deals with controlling quality and availability of seeds and protects farmers' rights) that they have introduced in Parliament. We have strong objections to it," said Raja.

"We have given amendments also because whatever government does government should do it keeping in view how the interests of Indian farmers will be protected. What government is trying to do in the name of Seeds Bill, they want to help the international multinational seed corporations and which they dictate everything to the government," he added.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had on December 3 blamed the opposition for the deadlock in the Parliament, which has stalled the discussion on the amended Seed Bill and the Pesticides Management Bill.

The Union Cabinet on October 20 gave its approval for moving further amendments to the Seeds Bill, 2004.

The proposed amendments would regulate the quality of seeds and planting materials to ensure availability of quality seeds to the farmers and to curb sale of spurious and poor quality seeds.

It would also help to increase private participation in seeds production, distribution, seed testing, and to liberalize imports of seeds and planting materials and to protect the rights of farmers. (ANI)

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