‘Kisan Mazdoor Commission’ to Look at Rising Challenges for Farmers in India

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‘Kisan Mazdoor Commission’ to Look at Rising Challenges for Farmers in India

The objective of the KMC is to go “beyond the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission in the light of challenges arising out of the growing corporate control on the supply of farm inputs resulting in the rising cost of production for farmers and on the markets for agricultural produce leading to the loss of incomes from farming”.  

New Delhi: In the run up to the general elections, the Press Club, New Delhi recently witnessed the launching of new commission – Kisan Mazdoor Commission (KMC) – to address the overall structural problems in agriculture. The objective of the KMC is to go “beyond the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission in the light of challenges arising out of the growing corporate control on the supply of farm inputs resulting in the rising cost of production for farmers and on the markets for agricultural produce leading to the loss of incomes from farming”.

The commission came out of discussions held between experts, farmers, labour unions and farm workers’ unions under the banner of ‘Nation for Farmers’ and later morphed into KMC. This commission, unlike others, aims to bring workers and farmers themselves into the agro-policy discussions. Jagmohan Singh has been voted as the national convenor, while Vijoo Krishnan, Navsharan Kaur, Roma Malik, Dinesh Abrol, P. Sainath, Thomas Franco and Nikhil Dey will be members.

The KMC’s ‘Agenda for 2024’ aims to study “rising cost of production, income enhancement, trade and investment (WTO and FTAs), rural credit and insurance, common pool resources, ecological challenge, food and nutrition, women farmers and rural non-farm enterprises”.

Speaking to The Wire, senior journalist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Sainath said, “M.S. Swaminathan’s life’s greatest contribution (the Swaminathan report on MSP) is ridiculed and thrown out, and meanwhile he was given a Bharat Ratna. We also become the world’s first country to use aerial drone warfare against farmers. We didn’t use this against the terrorist but against the farmers. Drones dropped tear gas canisters on peacefully protesting farmers. ”

Speaking on the government’s response to the farmers’ movement, Sainath said, “The package they (the Union government) offered was farm laws through the back door, it said we will expand MSP to five crops, but on paper it’s 23 crops already – if you go to five it’s a reduction.”

“Even if we look at the government’s own household consumption survey, whose veracity I doubt, even those figures show us that farmers’ incomes are lower than the rural average. That is why KMC its a platform with farmers and mazdoors in the forefront, I too am only member of the drafting committee. It is time to update and go beyond the Swaminathan Commission to address newer challenges like climate change, etc.,” he added.

The other issues the KMC proposes to look into are the Electricity Amendment Act, policy on water which is a basic right, pension scheme, Forest Rights Act implementation, MGNREGA implementation, policies on fisheries, rain fed dry land agriculture, climate crisis, biodiversity loss and seed systems. The KMC is planning to hold special consultations on the subjects of land rights for women farmers including women agricultural workers, rights of rural labour which will include all the basic rights (not just wages but access to capabilities and markets), and the connections between agrarian crisis, environmental degradation and climate crisis.

Navsharan Kaur whose is leading the research on women within the KMC, told The Wire, “Women are highly disadvantaged in agriculture. Despite being about 60% of the workforce, women barely own any land and in most places are not even counted as farmers. Even when we look the PM Kisan scheme, it hardly has any women beneficiaries. Women hardly have access to resources in agriculture. KMC will attempt to bridge this inequality. Apart from getting women’s needs to the forefront, we hope to influence policy through which women get more access to land in the villages and to create food and vegetables areas for better nutrition. Unused land within the public sector, should be redistributed to poor and landless women instead of corporates.”

KMC has also set up other working groups to tackle the issues of “Analysis of Cost of Production and Income Sources; Analysis of Public & Private Investments; Farming Systems; Agricultural R & D; Agri-Digitalization; Rural Labour; Nutrition & Food Safety; Commons; Trade & Investment; Credit & Insurance.”

Dinesh Abrol also addressed the press conference and spoke to The Wire. He said, “The root cause of the agrarian crisis is the capture of public sector institutions by domestic and foreign corporations, for example Amazon, a retailing company, is now working with Ministry of Agriculture on agriculture extension. How does this happen? Corporatisation of agriculture is happening at a very rapid pace. My own research on the Green Revolution shows this, because instead of scientific management and use of agri-inputs, now companies are pushing more chemicals and inputs to boost their business. This is huge cost for the farmers and ecology of the country.”

Source Content – ‘Kisan Mazdoor Commission’ to Look at Rising Challenges for Farmers in India (thewire.in)

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