Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lok Satta, farmers’ organizations to seek free movement of food grains

Representatives of independent farmers’ organizations and the Lok Satta Party will be representing to the Director General of Foreign (DGFT) trade to permit free export of food grains to countries where there is good demand. There is no alternative to exports if justice is to be done to the farmer at a time the country is reaping bumper harvests and warehouses are overflowing with stocks.

The DGFT is visiting Hyderabad on March 12.

In a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma pointed out that lopsided policies of the Union and State Governments, rather than unusual rains, hurt the farmers this year. Farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka would have received a better price for paddy had the Government of India permitted export of BPT variety of rice (Sona Masoori) and boiled rice made out of rain-soaked paddy as suggested by the Lok Satta Party and independent farmers’ organizations. Government failure to act on the representation in time resulted in farmers selling their rain-damaged produce at 50 percent of the minimum support price.

Mr. Varma recalled that thanks to the efforts put in by Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, the Andhra Pradesh Government permitted export of 1.5 lakh tons of BPT rice outside the State in December 2010. Following Dr. JP’s representations to the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, the Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and others in Delhi, the Government of India permitted export of 1.5 lakh tons of rice, including one lakh tons of BPT rice, outside the country. Had the State and Central Governments been liberal in permitting movement of rice within and outside the country, the farmer would have been spared distress sale of his produce.

Mr. Varma also recalled that the Lok Satta tooth and nail opposed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s request to the Union Government to impose a total ban on cotton exports. Because of the Lok Satta’s intervention, the Government did not ban cotton exports. As a result, cotton producers received a good price for their produce this year.

The Lok Satta Party and independent farmers’ organizations will tell the DGFT that farmers shall have the freedom to market their produce wherever there is demand within and outside the country. The entire country should be treated as a single market.

Mr. Varma wanted the State Government to announce a State Advisory Price of not less than Rs. 2300 a ton for sugarcane. It should straightway pay the outstanding dues of Rs.52 crore to palm plantation owners, without waiting for Central share.

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