Bhopal: In solidarity with the peasants protesting at Delhi's Singhu border, farmers from Madhya Pradesh on Sunday (January 10) said that the government should make a law banning the purchase of farm produce at a price lower than the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
The aforementioned farmers were in the city to take part in the ongoing ‘Gur Mela' at Bhopal Haat.
The mela was organised by the state agriculture department and district administration of Narsinghpur under the Central Government's ATMA scheme.
The farmers told the Free Press Journal they say that they do not get a fair price for their produce and expressed solidarity with the demands of the farmers protesting in Delhi.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
'Want guarantee on minimum price'
Yogesh Kaurav, from Gadarwara, said:
"MRP (Maximum Retail Price) is mentioned on every commodity sold in the market. What the farmers are demanding is not 'maximum' but the 'minimum' price. We want a Minimum Support Price (MSP). The government should either scrap the new laws or make a law guaranteeing the MSP. The cost of farm inputs is rising but the price of the agricultural products is stagnant. Over the past ten years, the price of Gur has never risen beyond Rs 35 per kg while diesel price has gone up from Rs 10 to Rs 80 per litre. Isn't this unjust?"
'Corporate conspiracy at work'
Rakesh Dubey, from Kartaj, said:
"For the past three years, big corporate companies have been building silos, costing crores of rupees, capable of holding lakhs of tons of grains in Punjab, Haryana and Bihar. Did these companies know that stock limits would be abolished? Why were the farmers not consulted before making the law? Why was the law made in such a hurry? There is definitely something wrong, somewhere."
'Why abolish the mandis?'
Rajendra Kumar Sarathe, from Gadarwara, said:
"I am in full support of the farmers protesting in Delhi. Why abolish the mandis? Why leave the farmers at the mercy of billionaires? In the local mandis, we have the choice to sell our produce to whosoever offers a higher price. But in contract farming, we would be tied to a particular company. We will have to accept whatever price it offers. This is not acceptable."
'Verbal assurances won't do'
Narmada Prasad Dubey, from Khamaria, said:
"The main issue is the MSP. The government should make a law stating that the licences of traders who buy any crop at a price lower than the MSP would be cancelled. Verbal assurances won't do. A law must be made. If you produce anything, you decide at what price you would sell it. But in the case of the farmers, the traders decide the price. We have to sell gur at low prices to traders. We are in solidarity with the protesting farmers, although we have not joined them."
The Gur Mela, which began on January 8, was to end on January 10. But it has been extended up to January 13 on popular demand.
The Narsinghpur district in the Mahakaushal region of the state is famous for its Tuar Dal and Gur. Organic Gur in around 10 flavours are selling like hotcakes at the mela.
These flavours include chocolate, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, sesame, ajwain etc.
There are a total of 40 stalls in the exhibition. Of these, 22 have been set up by farmers from Narsinghpur.
A farmer from Gadarwara, of the Narsinghpur district, is selling around 10 flavours of Gur in candy form.
Black 'sugar-free' rice from Balaghat is also on sale at the mela.