Stakeholders take stock of farmers’ movement in Karnataka and the way forward

Stakeholders representing various farmers organisations took stock of their struggle and the kisan movement that brought them to the forefront in polity and discussed the way forward, here on Sunday.

The discussion on Farmers’ Movement in Karnataka was conducted as part of the 5th Kisan Swaraj Sammelan which concluded here on Sunday.

T.N. Prakash Kammardi, former chairperson of Karnataka Agricultural Price Commission, said that while there is acknowledgement of agricultural production, it has been delinked from the producers and there was the piquant situation of increase in grain production alongside increase in farmers’ suicide.

He said despite the pandemic, the farmers ensured that there was a growth in agricultural production as a result of which there was no ‘’Sri Lanka-like’’ situation in the country. Mr. Kammardi said that the movement should also take stock of issues related to climate change.

K.T. Gangadhar of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha traced the social and economic conditions of the country when the farmers’ movement began and said that they have been talking about sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation since the inception of the movement.

He questioned the government’s policy to invite MNCs to invest in agriculture and said that along with food security, the seed sovereignty of the farmers was also important. Mr. Gangadhar said that going forward, Indian agriculture was capable of generating food security besides ensuring employment. He added that the farmers’ movement wanted the contentious farm and land reforms Act in the State to be repealed.

Kurubur Shanthakumar, of Karnataka State Sugarcane Cultivators’ Association, said that India had become a food surplus and export nation from one that lived a hand-to-mouth existence and the credit for this should go to the farmers. But at the same time, the farmers’ condition had turned precarious. Similar views were espoused by Badagalpura Nagendra who wanted the movement to have political clarity about its objectives. He said the movement had impacted socio-political and cultural spheres.

Chukki Nanjundaswamy, environmentalist and farmers’ rights activist spearheading the farmers’ movement, said that the grassroots struggle of the cultivators has assumed different forms compared to its origins. She said farmers bear the brunt of climate change and wanted introspection on whether cultivating water guzzling crops was sustainable at all. While there was an existential crisis plaguing the farmers, the movement should not be focused on narrower issues. The struggle should not confine itself to laying seige to Vidhana Soudha or the DC’s office, she added.

Calling for the decentralization of the leadership, she said no movement can grow if it was confined to a few individuals.

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