Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Manifest: Rights of peasants – a step ahead for the future of humanity


Schwäbisch Hall, 13 March 2017

The International Congress on Peasants’ Rights, which took place from 7 to 10 March in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany, brought together close to one hundred peasants and representatives of food producers from all over the world,  along with the same diversity of human rights defenders and activists. The Congress concluded with the presentation of a Manifesto on the need for a Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, a text that was finalized with the contribution of the participants to the event. Below you can find the full text.
Almost 500 years ago, growing encroachments on peasants’ common lands by princes and churches led to rural uprisings in Southern Germany and to the drafting of the peasants’ “Twelve Articles”. This document represents the first record of demands for human rights and liberties in Europe, and included the right to equal access to lands, forests and fishing grounds. Although the feudal lords brutally crushed this revolt, peasants kept resisting and showing that the feudal nobility hadn’t defeated them. History shows that when peasants are rolled back in one place they reappear in another one. Peasant revolts are still on-going!
The Global Peasants’ Rights Congress, taking place from the 8th to the 10th of March 2017, shows this. More than 400 peasants, fishers, pastoralists, beekeepers, indigenous people, migrant and seasonal workers, rural women, youth, food consumers, NGOs’ representatives, academics, lawyers, activists and government representatives from more than 50 countries gathered together in the city of Schwäbisch Hall, a hotspot of the 16th-century “Great Peasants’ War”, to exchange views, to learn and to increase awareness about the current process of drafting a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. This Declaration has roots in an initiative of La Vía Campesina launched more than 15 years ago. With the sponsorship of the Bolivian Government, the process has been rapidly advancing in the UN Human Rights Council and will now go to a fourth round of negotiations in May 2017. This week’s Global Peasants’ Rights Congress showed that while we come from highly diverse backgrounds, we are nonetheless able to join hands in defense of human dignity and nature. This process resembles a river, with an increasing number of tributaries, crossing different landscapes and flowing together in a mighty stream of life.
Yesterday’s oppressors today have new faces. Instead of feudal lords we now confront the weapons of capital:
Corporations, national elites and governments are grabbing our territories, including our oceans, and endangering our livelihoods, social cohesion, peoples’ sovereignty and peace. Whenever we are prevented from controlling our territories, food sovereignty is under huge danger. For pastoralists, especially, this amounts to disrupting their mobility and particular way of relating to their diverse ecosystems. Violence against our territories is closely interlinked with violence against women. Women suffer violence on their bodies and are not recognized as political subjects of transformation. Land concentration is sharply increasing everywhere, driven by a development and production model that destroys biodiversity and the environment and contributes to climate change. At the same time, the cessation of agrarian reform programs means that landless tenants experience new forms of slavery, ultimately leading to migration.
The absence of international mechanisms to manage migration increases the vulnerability of migrants and their communities. Especially women are often left behind with an increased burden of productive and reproductive labour. On the other hand plantation and migrant workers are heavily exposed to pesticides and have to do piece rate labour without job security; they are denied social security, prevented from organizing freely and are often vulnerable to be deported. Women and migrants are the most exploited rural workers.
Our animals are at risk as well of being grabbed by research centers and companies that apply for patents on their genetic traits. Trade agreements, the World Bank, G7 and so-called philanthropic foundations are forcing governments in the Global South to introduce industrial seeds and to align their laws with international regimes of intellectual property protection. Thus, peasants in Europe and other places are criminalized for saving and replanting seeds which fall under the protection of the UPOV convention. Our knowledge as peasants, livestock producers and beekeepers, our innovations and further development of biodiversity, suffer discrimination from proponents of the allegedly superior knowledge of science and academia. The intertwined and holistic relationship between our communities, our cultures and nature in our territories is violently disregarded.
Furthermore, we often lack access to means of production such as credit, infrastructure and insurance. We are deprived of access to markets, which, along with agricultural policies, are primarily geared to international trade. The market power of companies and intermediaries keeps prices for fish and other peasants’ products low. Former public local food markets are being privatized.
Finally, we are facing brutal repression. In many countries the media, in collusion with governments, manipulates public opinion against resisting rural communities and, more broadly, underpins a system of oppression and inequality. Whenever we stand for the defense of our rights, territories and livelihoods, governments physically and legally harass us. With the pretext of preventing terrorism, right-wing governments are criminalizing a huge number of social movement leaders using anti-terrorism laws. Furthermore, the worldwide rise of xenophobia, nationalism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia is putting food sovereignty and people’s sovereignty at high risk and threatening our rural people’s identities.
In light of these common threats, we go out of this congress deeply convinced of the strategic importance of a UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. This Declaration strengthens the legitimacy of our demands and makes visible our social, cultural and political values. It acknowledges our enormous contribution to ensuring collective well-being – whether through the provision of nourishing food or the development of biodiversity and the protection of the environment. It reaffirms our rights to land, water and natural resources, to seeds, biodiversity, food sovereignty, decent income and means of production, and their collective dimension. It contributes to the emancipation of women from patriarchal structures. It considers the importance of intergenerational thinking and knowledge transmission in rural areas. Ultimately, it recognizes that our collective future, and the very future of humanity, is bound up with the rights of peasants and other people working in the rural areas. The Declaration is an important tool for the struggle, compiling our rights in one instrument in a holistic and coherent way. It is creating a shift in consciousness and inspiring new law making. It can become a vehicle for the convergence of movements and struggles committed to larger systemic changes.
In order to achieve stronger support from states for this Declaration, participants in the Global Peasants’ Rights Congress call on all movements of the Declaration’s rights-holders — peasants, livestock producers and pastoralists, fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples, rural artisans, traditional communities, among others — to build alliances in their local and national contexts, to keep resisting and to jointly mobilize. The struggles at the grassroots level are crucial for ensuring recognition and support by our national governments and for generating strong and broad pressure towards a swift approval of this Declaration.
We call on the world’s governments to seriously commit to this process. We especially call on the German and European governments to live up to their commitment to human rights by strongly engaging with this historic process. Violations of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas also take place here in Europe, where the Common Agriculture Policy is supporting the logic of “increase in size or disappear”. This production and export-oriented European industrial agriculture and food system leads to depeasantization in Europe and has enormous external impacts on the entire planet.
We acknowledge that although we come from countless different backgrounds, we suffer intersecting forms of oppression and must stay in solidarity with each other – South and North, women and men, elders and youth, rural and urban, peasants, migrant and seasonal workers, indigenous people, fishers, pastoralists and beekeepers. We affirm our interconnected struggles. If one of us loses, we all will lose. Our capacity to organize is our instrument of power and will lead to effectively enforcing our rights as human beings and as peasants.
Like a river, our forces will flow together in a mighty stream of life!
Long live peasants!
Schwäbisch Hall, March 10th, 2017
photos: Hannes Jung (

Click here to read the Declaration of the Rights of Peasants

(First published on -

Kasturirangan Report is destructive – Chukki Nanjudaswamy

Calicut, Kerala: Kasturirangan report that recommends the eviction of farmers from the Western Ghats region is destructive, said Chukki Nanjudaswamy, Chairperson of Amritabhoomi Trust. 

She was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the International Council for Environmental Protection (ICEP), a network of farmers and environmentalists.
Developed and industrialized countries, responsible for high carbon emissions and global warming are shifting their blame on small farmers, with vested intents. 

She argued that those who have stolen our seeds, soil and water are now proposing solutions for environmental protection. It is these ‘experts’ who script environmental protection policies from the comfort of their air-conditioned rooms, whom we should be suspicious of, she warned.

Farmers who work on the soil are our best bet to protect the environment. Any attempt to evict them from their traditional farm lands must be resisted sternly, she added.
We should not allow the State-Corporate nexus to dictate the terms of environmental protection to us. People should be at the forefront of this decision making and Kerala can provide an example to the rest of the country in doing this.

(Translated from Malayalam, first published at

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Interpretation-translation training held successfully in Nepal

Kathmandu, March/ A two day skill development training on interpretation and translation organized by La via Campesina (LVC-international peasant movement) along with All Nepal Peasants Federation (ANPFa) in co-operation with Solidarity Interpretation group successfully held in Kathmandu. The program was attended by around 20 trainees volunteers who were part of the various CSOs and social movements especially working on the issue of peasantry and agriculture.

Data Ram Khanal-secretary of ANPFa in his inauguration speech shared the situation of agriculture and peasantry in Nepal. Mr. Pramesh Pokharel, youth peasant leader and secretary of foreign affairs of ANPFa highlighted the significance and value of interpretation to consolidate the local movement and link with global movement. He said that, we want more volunteers to help the movements through their professional skills to uphold the spirit of saying there is no internationalization of movement without interpretation and no revolution without interpreters. I hope that this skill will help our farmers to be updated with what’s happening around the world and to carry our voices to the larger audiences.

Honorable Shanta Manavi, former minister for livestock development shared her experience on how interpreters do their jobs and how she was able to take the responsibility of ICC member of La Via Campesina with the help of interpreters. She also spoke about the importance of confidence, expression and reflexivity for the interpreters.
Trainers representing various movements of students, youths, women, Dalits, indigenous groups including progressive likeminded NGOs/CSOs were present in the program. The training was also fruitful to develop skills of memorizing, note taking, confidence building and developing the skill of public speaking-one of the participants from NGO Federation of Nepal said . Katie Whiddon, who was the trainer from Spain also made a presentation on conceptual and methodological issues of interpretation.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Bharatiya Kisan Union demand compensation for land acquired for Kanpur thermal power plant

They also demanded that farmers arrested from the protest site be immediately released.
Kanpur, India: Since 21 November 2016, farmers in Lahurmau village of Kanpur, whose lands were acquired to build a Nyveli-owned thermal power plant, have been staging an indefinite strike by the banks of Yamuna river
These farmers from neighbouring eight villages allege that the construction at the site have already begun even before they have received compensations for their lost land and livelihoods. Nearly 1850 farmers in these villages are directly affected by   the power project.

The ownership of the acquired land had already been issued to the power plant. While the planning for the project had begun at least four years before, apart from a few farmers most of them allege that they have not received any compensation so far.

In these four years, none of these farm families have been able to cultivate in their land, leading to loss of livelihoods and considerable fall in their farm incomes. Farmers have been forced to take to the streets in protest. The project plan which came about during the term of the previous Central government, was pushed forth under the pretext that the affected farmers would be compensated four-times the market rate of land in the region, considering the permanent loss of livelihoods and farm incomes. When the new government came to power in 2014, it took the implementation of the project forward, but farmers’ demands remained unmet. In the meantime, farmers allege that there have been massive discrepancies in ascertaining the compensation amount from what was agreed initially. They also accuse the plant owners for providing inadequate compensation to some farmers before the land prices were expected to appreciate.

Worse, some of the protesting farmers like Niraj Singh Rajput and Vishaka of Bharatiya Kisan Union were arrested by the police in January, false cases slapped and jailed. Visakha, was arrested in the absence of any woman police official and farmers accused the administration of high handedness in dealing with the issue.

In response, on 1st March 2016, Bharatiya Kisan Union, issued an ultimatum to the district officials to immediately release Niraj Singh and Vishaka Rajput. They have also demanded that the false cases slapped on the protesting farmers be immediately taken back.

Keeping in line with the original agreement, all affected farmers, including the few who were inadequately compensated, be provided compensation that is four times the current circle rate of the land. They have also insisted that one member from each family, whose land were acquired be given a job as per their qualification and monetary compensation for the families. The agricultural workers, have demanded that they be rehabilitated adequately and members of their families be given jobs at the plant. Farmers whose crops have been damaged as part of the project and whose borewells and electric transformers have been affected be also compensated adequately. Many of them, who have not been able to cultivate for four years and have seen their farm incomes dip in this period have demanded that the calculation of compensation must consider this aspect as well. The common-village land that was acquired also needs to be compensated and this must be passed onto the respective village councils for local development, the union demanded. In their demand letter, the union members have also asked for strict action on the police officers who abused their power and assaulted and jailed protesting farmers.

(First published on -

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Women of the World, Mobilise this #March8

 For the women of La Via Campesina from all over the world, 8th of March is a day of struggle, resistance and denunciation of the capitalist system, transnational corporations (TNCs), patriarchy and masochism. These oppress, exploit and violate women. It's also a day of solidarity with women’s struggles. 
As peasant women, we are fully committed to the struggle for food sovereignty as a solution for systemic change. This includes our struggle for access to land, water, health and seeds. We use agroecology as a political practice which envisions a world built on the principles of justice and equity.  
In recent times, we have seen an increase in violence against women. Our struggles and resistances are being criminalised in a context of growing conservatisms, dismantling of public policies and violations of long-fought-for women’s rights.
The recent grab of power by right-wing governments and heteropatriarchal forces around the world has further imposed an environment where women are violated, oppressed and in some cases assassinated with impunity. In this system, women suffer violence in different ways every day. There are patriarchal forces that confine and bind women in the private sphere, i.e. the home, to care for others. These forces constantly keep us, women, away from political sphere or the social and public life.   
Therefore, it is necessary for us, peasant women of the world, to take the street on this 8thof March, to mobilise, take action and defend our rights, lands, seeds, healthy food and to raise our voices to say Stop Violence Against Women, in ways that suit each organisation’s struggles, goals and local contexts.
We are committed to building alliances for the struggles of peasant women against capital and heteropatriarchal violence. Therefore, we also support and join the International Women Strike this 8th of March. 
Stop violence against women! 

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Farm groups petition agri price panel for remunerative MSP

 22nd February 2017

The Chairman
Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices
Room No. 161
Krishi Bhawan
New Delhi

Formulation of Price Policy for Kharif Crops for 2017-18 Season – Presentation on Behalf of Jai Kisan Andolan of Swaraj Abhiyan and Associated Farmers’ Organizations  
Jai Kisan Andolan of Swaraj Abhiyan and associated farmers’ organizations namely Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh (KSS) and Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Telangana (RSV) gratefully acknowledge the invitation extended by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) to make a presentation with regard to formulation of price policy for Kharif Crops for the 2017-18 Season.
Given below is our presentation, made on behalf of the farmers of the nation, who toil day and night and in rain and sun, to ensure food security for all citizens of India.
1.  Guiding Principles for the CACP:
The Commission tends to view its role in a narrow, technical manner. We submit that the Commission must spell out the values and principles that guide its deliberations. These principles are already provided in the Constitution and in several key policy documents such as the National Policy for Farmers 
1.1. The overarching framework of values is provided by the Preamble to the Constitution of India and the Directive Principles of of State Policy. The Preamble seeks to secure for all the citizens “JUSTICE, social, economic and political” and should thus guide the deliberations of the CACP.
1.1.1.   Article 38(2) of the Directive Principles mandates that “The State shall, in particular, strive to minimise the inequalities in income, and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.” This enjoins upon the CACP to eliminate inequalities between farming and non-farming communities.
1.1.2.   Article 43 makes it more specific: “The State shall endeavour to secure, by suitable legislation or economic organisation or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise, work, a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities”. This article requires the CACP to offer “living wages” to the farmers that can ensure “decent standard of life”.
1.2.  Recognizing the failure of planned economic development to meet the needs of the farmers, The National Policy for Farmers, 2007 called for a policy re-orientation so as to: “focus more on the economic well-being of the farmers, rather than just on production. Socio-economic well-being must be a prime consideration of agricultural policy, besides production and growth. The aim of the Policy is, therefore, to stimulate attitudes and actions which should result in assessing agricultural progress in terms of improvement in the income of farm families” (para 1.5)
1.2.1.   Specifically, the NPF defined its main objective as: “To improve economic viability of farming by substantially increasing the net income of farmers and to ensure that agricultural progress is measured by advances made in this income.” (para 3.1 (i)). It goes on to specifically identify another key objective “To provide appropriate price and trade policy mechanisms to enhance farmers’ income.” (para 3.1 (v))
1.2.2.   The NPF identified a series of policy measures to improve the farmers’ income including making MSP mechanism effective across the country and a Market Invervention Scheme (Para 5.10.2).
1.2.3.   It also lays down the principle for price policy: “The government, while taking decisions on MSP, would ensure that the farmers’ interests in receiving remunerative prices for their produce are adequately safeguarded.” (Para 5.10.5)
1.2.4.   The Policy  “The terms of reference and status of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) would be reviewed to make the MSP regime more effective.” (Para 5.10.6). It is clear thus that the basic point of the latest ToR of the Commission is to provide remunerative prices to the farmers so as to enhance farmers’ income.
2.  Interpreting the Vision and the Terms of Reference for CACP
The Commission has tended to take a narrow view of its own ToR. Read carefully and in the light of its own Charter and the principles mentioned above the Commission has a unique and critical responsibility to suggest price and non-price measure that would enhance farmers’ income substantially and continuously. 
2.1. The Citizens’ Charter of CACP states “The main objective of the Commission is to recommend remunerative prices of mandated crops to the farmers by recommending Minimum Support Price (MSP)”. Thus “remunerative price” is built into the charter of the CACP.
2.2. The present and revised Terms of Reference (w.e.f 30.07.2009) for the CACP defines that its role is “To advise on the price policy of paddy/rice, wheat, jowar, bajra, maize, ragi, barely, gram, tur, moong, urad, sugarcane, groundnut, soyabean, seed, rapeseed, mustard, cotton, jute tobacco, seasmum, nigerseed, lentil (massur), safflower, copra  and such other commodities as the Government may decide from time to time, with a view to evolving a balanced and integrated price structure in the perspective of the overall needs of the economy and with due regard to the interests of the producer and the consumer.”
2.3. The Resolution above also spells out some of the considerations that the Commission may take into account. It is important to note that:
2.3.1.   The Resolution leaves the Commission free to “determine its own procedure”. While the Government is not bound by the Commission’s advise, the Commission is not required to consult, let alone follow, the Government’s position on price policy;
2.3.2.   The ToR do not mention budgetary or fiscal constrains of the Government of India as one of the considerations to be taken into account;
2.3.3.   While the ToR mentions balancing the interests of the farmers with those of the consumers, it does not shift the burden of providing cheap food to 130 crore people from that of the state to the shoulders of farmers;
2.3.4.   The ToR empowers the Commission to “suggest such non-price measures related to credit policy, crop and income insurance and other sectors as would facilitate the achievements of the objectives”; and
2.3.5.   The ToR also empowers the Commission to “suggest measures to reduce costs of marketing and recommend fair price margins for different stages of marketing”
2.4. When the Present ToR and the Vision of CACP are read harmoniously, it is undeniable that the CACP is visualized as an independent agency to protect the interest of the primary producer of agricultural commodities, the Indian farmers.
3.  CACP as a pivotal player at this moment of agrarian crisis
3.1. There is unanimity on the deep economic distress of Indian farmers. According to the 70th Round of NSSO (Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households), the average monthly farm income of an agricultural household is only Rs. 3,844 including cultivation and animal husbandry. About 52% of the agricultural households in the country were estimated to be indebted, which is one of the chief factors for the epidemic of farmer suicides. The families have to extensively depend on non-farm sources even to meet their survival expenses. In recent years, the rate of growth of Indian agriculture has declined further. Two successive droughts in 2014 and 2015 made matters worse, leading to impoverishment of millions of agricultural households. CACP, which is mandated with ensuring that farmers get remunerative prices, cannot be a silent spectator to this mayhem.
3.2. Central Governments across the spectrum of political and ideological horizon have in successive union budgets, especially in the last decade, expressed anguish about the all-pervasive poverty of the Indian farming community and suggested scores of remedies to uplift the economic status of farming households, recognizing and respecting that it is they who are the primary food producers of the country. If the farmer-income oriented formal announcements made by the present Government through its pre-election manifesto, budget speeches and economic policy announcements are anything to go by, then, the current government is also committed to enhancing the income of the farmers. The present Government has announced in 2 successive union budgets that the income of the farmers will be doubled in 6 years. We must assume that this doubling is in real terms and not just nominal terms. Clearly this is not possible unless the CACP helps the Government to achieve this ambitious target.
3.3. Unfortunately, in recent years, the price recommended by the CACP, and largely accepted by the government, has moved away from this objective. The rate of growth of MSP has actually declined since 2014. The Chart given below indicates poor average annual growth in MSP, which are even less than the inflation rate and contrary to the intent of the present Government and therefore contrary to the mandate of CACP. This needs to be corrected immediately and the rate of growth must be brought on par with at least the level achieved during 2004-05 to 2008-09.
2014-15 to 2016-17
2009-10 to 2013-14
2004-05 to 2008-09
1999-00 to 2003-04
3.9 %
8.1 %
10.9 %
4.6 %
5.1 %
5.4 %
11.9 %
2.8 %
3.4. Such a situation sends several unfortunate signals to the farming community. First, the present government is not serious about its stated intent of improving farmers income. Second, the CACP responds more to political signals from the government and less to the distress signals from the farming community. Three, for all its sophisticated cost calculation, the CACP will come up with routine increment of Rs. 50 or so every year. Four, that it does not make a difference as an overwhelming proportion of farmers are forced to sell their crops well below the MSP.
3.5. Thus it is now or never for CACP to recommend bold measures for enhancing the MSP as without enhancement of MSP, the income of farmers cannot be increased, much less doubled. It is also now or never for CACP to realize its Vision on Mission Mode and honour the charter that the citizens of India have bestowed on it. MSP and procurement of some major commodities form the basis for delivery of better incomes and profitability to farmers, to cover at least their cost of cultivation. There are no other schemes with such expansive coverage to support farmers at the output end. However, long pending issues in this support mechanism need to be resolved by CACP to enable the Government to achieve the target of doubling income of farmers. Perhaps all the issues raised below cannot be resolved at the CACP level alone but as CACP has expansive advisory capacity in both price and non-price levels, CACP is best placed to incorporate these into the CACP Report and its communication to the government.
4. Time to think afresh: the RUPYA approach
It is time for CACP to offer Fresh Thinking and Complete Overhaul of the Policy Framework Relating to Price Policy. The agrarian sector needs big ideas and big relief in price policy. We propose a mechanism for minimum assured income to all farming families or RUPYA as the way forward.
4.1. The objective of this new approach is to:
4.1.1.   Address all fundamental and structural issues relating to agriculture and all segments of rural primary production.
4.1.2.   Address holistic and composite rural regeneration as it touches all sectors of rural economy and is central to the lives and livelihoods of a vast majority of people of this nation.
4.1.3.   Recognize that agriculture and all segments of rural primary production are the backbone of food and economic sovereignty of the nation.
4.1.4.   Ensure that the quality of food consumed by citizens meets the highest standards of safety and health
4.2. Remunerative and Universal Price and Yield Assurance or RUPYA: Farmers find that when there is good yield and production, the prices are too low and they get very little net income in hand. When there is crop loss and low yield, the farmers lose their investment anyway, even if the price is high. Whether it is low price or crop loss, it is happening due to no fault of the farmers but they are suffering heavily for it. Therefore, we suggest a remunerative and universal price and yield assurance mechanism (RUPYA), to achieve assured income to all farm households. The mechanism should have the following features: the prices should be remunerative, benefit of remunerative price should be available to all farmers and it must cover farmers against all forms of crop loss and price deficiency. This would take the form of a number of interconnected schemes:
4.2.1.   Price Deficiency Payments to make existing “support price” effective and meaningful beyond procurement by government of a few commodities in some locations; Recommendations of Ramesh Chand Committee report on MSP fixing formulae should also be accepted and implemented. Recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee that the MSP should be set in such a way that the farmers must earn 50% profit over their cost of production, should also be implemented. [as per Para 2(a) to (c) of Present ToR]
4.2.2.   Market Intervention Scheme for perishables and those products not covered under price support schemes. [as per Para 4 of Present ToR]
4.2.3.   Price Stabilization Fund for plantation crops. [as per Para 4 of Present ToR]
4.2.4.   Minimum Support Prices should be effectively implemented for pulses and oilseeds, operationalizing the new MSP concept articulated in Economic Survey 2016-17 (social and environmental rationalization of MSP). [as per Para 4 of Present ToR]
4.2.5.   The Public Distribution System should be used to procure pulses and millets too, to increase the food basket for poor consumers and to encourage farmers to diversify through assured markets. [as per Para 11 of Present ToR]
4.2.6.   Import of food grains, particularly wheat and pulses, should be carefully monitored so as to ensure that the off-take of domestic production takes place first. Due to over production, farmers are selling pulses (particularly arhar aka pigeon peas) below minimum support prices. However, due to import contracts made in July, 2016, India is importing pulses from other nations at much above MSP. [as per Para 7 of Present ToR]
4.2.7.   Universal Crop Insurance that covers all cultivated land against all forms of crop loss and damage, where the Government shall pay the basic premium. The PMFBY has not yielded the promised results and therefore should be reviewed and recast to ensure that both loanee and non-loanee farmers are covered by the security net [as per Para 3 of Present ToR]
5.  New mechanism and new modalities for the fresh approach
5.1. The Minimum Support Price being announced at an amount that just about covers the cost of cultivation is unreasonable. With such price realization, the farmer can at the most invest back the proceeds into the farming operations. What about the farm household’s other needs beyond the enterprise, like food, clothing, education, healthcare etc., if no margin is built over the C2 in the price realization? This is where the CACP has to incorporate the Swaminathan Commission recommendation of C2+50%. As a transitional measure for implementation of RUPYA, this is perhaps one of the most effective tools available for doubling income of farmers in the short term. This is all the more important today, to bring down income disparity of farmers with other sections of society, especially in view of the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission. It is time for CACP to act like the Pay Commission to comprehensively understand the income need of farmers and ensure that they receive it – that is the mandate of CACP.
5.2. Recommendations of the Ramesh Chand Committee report should be implemented. The report was submitted in April 2015. Many recommendations were unanimously agreed upon and therefore there is no bar in their implementation. Even on those recommendations where DES had reservations, there is positive action possible for farmers of India. In any case, there are many technical suggestions in that report that do not require government’s approval. The Commission can consider these suggestions on its own.
5.3. The practice of dissuading State governments from paying bonuses to farmers should be discontinued; States should actually be encouraged to do so, keeping in mind local conditions and diversity of crops.
5.4. MSP announced should under no circumstances be lower than C2 cost estimates. The current practice of not even ensuring that MSP is never below the C2 estimates arrived at, leave alone improve cost estimates and then provide a dignified margin above C2, should be forthwith abandoned.
5.5. Just as some noteworthy improvements in MSP have been announced in crops where procurement does not take place and where market prices are in any case significantly higher than the MSP, crops that are procured by the Government should be treated on the same footing.
5.6. Government should ensure that no trading ever takes place below the MSP as otherwise announcing MSPs becomes meaningless. In fact, Government should ensure that the procurement price is higher than MSP within the limited procurement done by the State and MSP should not become the default procurement price.
5.7. Mechanism should be immediately evolved to ensure that effective market intervention takes place all over the country by a designated agency, to meet the above objective of restraining trade below MSP and procuring at remunerative prices above MSP for all the farmers, unlike the present situation.
6.  Correcting existing anomalies in the calculation of MSP
Even within the existing mechanism and the limited understanding of its own mandate, the CACP can make a significant change in the method by which it arrives at the recommended MSP. Some of these immediate suggestions involve correcting the anomalies that are apparently contributing to suppressed estimations of cost, and thereby MSP. This is completely within the scope of DES and CACP together and they can make changes straightaway, to improve cost estimations.
6.1. There are many components, which are contributing to the suppression of costs, across crops and states and which need to be included:
6.1.1.   Family labour is counted only for days of major farm activity – not counted for other days – they should be counted.
6.1.2.   Interest on credit is counted only at institutional credit rates even though data is collected for non-institutional credit including actual interests being paid by sample farmers – they should be counted.
6.1.3.   Interest on working capital is calculated for only one season, though the entire cycle upto the marketing cycle getting completed could take a whole year. This should be calculated for one whole year.
6.1.4.   Land lease rates are fixed only at rates that are allowed under tenancy laws and not taken at what the data is revealing, as real land rental value – they should be taken at real values.
6.1.5.   Cost of maintenance of bullocks is limited to only the actual use of bullocks in the farm operations – this should be taken on annual basis.
6.1.6.   No managerial cost is being added though 10% is calculated and presented, over revised C2 – they should be added.
6.1.7.   Post-harvest costs are not included and can be presented in the CS for allowing CACP to incorporate them into MSP recommendations – they should be included.
6.2. Some components need to be corrected for their irrationality: Labour wage rates even for family labour are taken as “unskilled wage rates” (actual payment and minimum wages for unskilled workers are used to finally invoke whatever is higher). This should be taken as skilled wages since this involves managerial skills (it is another matter that we think that even workers’ wages should be seen as skilled workers’ wages).
6.3. Sampling Related Issues:
6.3.1.   The number of sample villages in selected blocks should be increased.
6.3.2.   Equal number of farmers from 5 landholding class categories does not make sense since the large farmers might have a benefit of economy of scale to an extent and then skew the average to the lower side because of that. The sample selection should be from within the same class.
6.3.3.   Minor crops’ sample size is too small. It should be increased.
6.3.4.   Irrigated and un-irrigated farmers are clubbed together – irrigated farmers might have higher yields which bring down the average cost of production per quintal. This may not reflect the reality of a majority of farmers. The sample selection should be from within the same class.
6.3.5.   Sample size could be too low to accommodate the diversity of growing conditions of farmers in any crop.
6.4. Resolving the discrepancy between yield figures used: CACP has to understand better and address why the yield figures used in the Comprehensive Scheme (CS) are always higher than APY estimates of the departments, since this brings down the cost of cultivation per quintal and thereby, MSP figures.
6.5. Statistical Issues: Weighted averages being used to finally arrive at the C2 at the national level is unscientific and problematic. For maximum coverage of farmers, bulk line cost should be arrived at, and used.
6.6. All the factors considered while converting A2+FL and C2 estimates into MSP should be quantified and there should a clear formula that explains the logic of the final MSP recommended by the CACP.
6.7. Pulses: The concept of Social-Value based MSP articulated in the Economic Survey and the Arvind Subramaniam Report must be immediately heeded by CACP. This concept makes it clear that MSP is not just about cost of cultivation, but the need to incentivize pulses in the form of higher MSPs. These recommendations to be implemented. The Report seeks Rs.60 for tur and urad in Kharif 2017 and Rs.70 in Kharif 2018. Right now, MSP is only Rs.46.25, which is too low. Even with a bonus, it is being bought for Rs.50.50, which is also low.
6.8. Perishables: CACP should push for 100% Centrally Sponsored Market Intervention Scheme. The present MIS has very few takers since it asks for 50% outlay from state government. Meanwhile, horticulture crops have increased in production in substantial way compared to grain production.
7. Expanding the power and the mandate of the CACP
It is customary for all Commissions to make recommendations to the government about changes in its own mandate and functioning. The CACP may ask the government to make the following changes to its ToR and its infrastructure.
7.1. CACP should not be required to weigh its recommendations against all the parameters as listed out today, including balancing prices across crops and for both consumers and farmers. The only focus of CACP should be on better price realization by farmers of India.
7.2. CACP should also put out information on Farm Incomes and prepare recommendations for particular crops, regions and categories of farmers for improving their Farm Incomes. Income realization data is being collected in the CS as of now but not being analyzed and put out.
7.3. CACP should be mandated to monitor price realization and ensure that prices do not fall below the MSP.
7.4. CACP should be involved in all trade policy decisions as pertaining to farmers’ interests and ensure that decisions on export-import of agricultural commodities cannot go against CACP’s recommendations in each case.
7.5. CACP should have farmers’ organizations’ representatives in its constitution.
7.6. CACP’s recommendations should be adopted as-is by the Government and prices can certainly not be fixed under any circumstance below the MSPs recommended by CACP.
7.7. CACP should as the government for more outlays and more human resources for doing justice to its mandate. More rapid data processing and software improvements are also required and should be asked for.
8.  Some other issues
8.1. State Governments: CACP should encourage more state governments to have state level CACPs that are expected to deal with more localized conditions and also support farmers with bonuses etc.
8.2. Exim Policies: CACP should ensure that these policies favour farmers and not just industries dependent on agricultural raw materials. Presently the import-export policy is anti- farmer. For example, not only was tur imported for Rs.90 per kg, but export Indian tur was also banned. This is a double-whammy, which is most likely to bring down the consumer price. The new report should include a study of the impact of trade related decisions on wheat and pulses.
8.3. CACP must recommend that farmers should be interfaced with markets in a stronger fashion through FPO investments, infrastructure and capacity building. The current schemes are not adequate and there are anti-farmer policies like Income Tax of 30% on FPOs.
8.4. Given the impact of ‘demonetization’ on farmers, the CACP should get special studies on how it has impacted the cost and recommend a special component in Kharif 2017-18 to compensate the farmer for the same.
8.5. This was the first year of the implementation of the PMFBY and the results have not been satisfactory. The CACP should make special recommendations for review and revision of this scheme.
8.6. The CACP should commission a comparative paper on the variations between state and national estimates of cost.

On Behalf of

Jai Kisan Andolan of Swaraj Abhiyan
Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha
Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh
Raithu Swarajya Vedika, Telangana
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Arajnaitik), UP
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Beniwal), Punjab

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