Eminent agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan Friday said that the UPA government in 2007 did not take action on the National Policy for Farmers, that seeks to improve the economic viability of farming. Backing the farmers' protest in Delhi, he said that the Central and State governments must pay attention to pricing, procurement and public distribution to address farmers' woes.
"The demand for loan waiver comes from the present non-remunerative nature of farming and is indicative of the fact that economic viability is as important to farmers as to industrialists," the first World Agriculture Prize awardee said.
The farmers stir evidenced "agrarian unrest" and they have concluded that only agitation and not reasoning, would lead to action to solve their problems, he said. "I only feel sorry that in the electoral politics, solutions like loan waiver are given importance," he said. Swaminathan said that the basic difficulties of farmers could be overcome only if integrated attention was given to pricing, procurement and public distribution.
"Unfortunately, the then government did not take action on the National Policy for Farmers when the report was presented in 2007," Swaminathan said. The NPF's policy goals include improving the economic viability of farming by substantially increasing the net income of farmers.
The NPF was approved in 2007 by the then Congress-led UPA government and the policy framework was prepared by Swaminathan, who was the chairman of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF). The top scientist said that the NCF reports give a clear sense of direction to shaping the future of agriculture based on farmers' welfare. Based on the recommendation of NCF, the Centre (under NDA regime) has already changed the name of the agriculture ministry to Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, he noted.
"This change in name should get reflected in action designed to promote farmers well-being, as the main purpose of agriculture ministries at the centre and states." Backing the farmer's demand for a special session of Parliament to discuss their problems, Swaminathan regretted that farmers, who are 'life givers', are forced to take their own lives due to economic reasons.
"I sincerely hope that today's Kisan Mukti March will be a turning point in the history of public policy formulation in the field of agriculture," he said. Around 35,000 farmers from across the country have converged near Parliament street police station in the national capital Friday to press for their demands, including debt relief and remunerative prices for their produce.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), which claims to be an umbrella body of 207 organisations of farmers and agricultural workers, claimed that farmers from 24 states also joined the protest.
(With inputs from agencies.)