Farmers’ organisations begin 10-day ‘gaon bandh’

Farmers from 172 organisations have begun a 10-day strike from Friday to draw attention to the ongoing agrarian crisis.

Farm produce, especially perishables such as milk and vegetables, will not be supplied to cities by protesting farmers during the “gaon bandh” or village shutdown, farm leaders said.

Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra are the most affected so far, according to Ramandeep Sangh Mann, a farmer leader associated with the Kisan Ekta Manch, an umbrella body of 62 farmer groups participating in the strike. “According to local reports, 40% of milk supply in Punjab is affected,” he said.

The major demands of the striking farmers are for a complete loan waiver, a minimum support price that is 50% higher than all input costs, and income assurance.

Call to traders’ groups
The Rashtriya Kisan Sangh, a platform for 110 farmers groups, is the other major participant in the strike. It has also called on traders groups to join farmers in a Bharat bandh on June 10.

“We think it is important to wake up the government and the urban elite, which is completely disconnected from this agrarian crisis… The nation must understand the importance of farmers,” said Devinder Sharma, a food policy expert who is part of the coordination committee of the Kisan Ekta Manch, speaking to The Hindu when the strike was first announced.

He felt that some major cities would feel the pinch, especially Chandigarh.