19 Feb 2024

Farmer Protest 2.0: Govt Proposes New Initiative to Farmers; Peasants Say Will Decide in Two Days

The latest round of discussions between the central government and farmers on Sunday night concluded without a clear resolution. Despite the inconclusive outcome, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, who participated in the meeting, portrayed it as a positive exchange of ideas.

Goyal highlighted, "We engaged in positive discussions with the Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh and other farmer leaders, exploring new concepts and suggestions."

The minister emphasized the detailed deliberations on advancing the agricultural initiatives undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the past decade.Crop diversification

The government's proposal involves crop diversification, with the commitment to purchase various crops at Minimum Support Price (MSP). Farmer leaders expressed their intent to consider this proposal, indicating that other outstanding demands are yet to be addressed.

The meeting, attended by 14 farmer representatives and three central government ministers, also included Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. Despite three previous meetings on February 8th, 12th, and 15th in Chandigarh, no conclusive results were achieved.

Echoing the format of the previous meeting, this session commenced late. The participants observed a two-minute silence to pay tribute to 79-year-old farmer Gyan Singh of Gurdaspur, who passed away during the ongoing farmers' movement.

 Minister Piyush Goyal outlined proposal

Following the meeting, Union Minister Piyush Goyal outlined the proposal, stating that government agencies would purchase pulses, maize, and cotton from farmers at MSP for a five-year period. Cooperative societies like the National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) would enter into agreements with farmers.

Goyal clarified, "Cotton will be purchased at MSP for five years through the Cotton Corporation of India, with no restrictions on the purchase quantity. A dedicated portal will be established for this purpose."

He emphasized that this initiative aims to enhance Punjab's underground water level and prevent further degradation of already distressed land. Discussions with relevant departments are expected to address these concerns.

What farmers say?

Farmer leaders expressed their intention to deliberate on the government's proposal over the next two days within their forums. Sarwan Singh Pandher, a prominent farmer leader, stated, "We will discuss this on our different forums on February 19-20 and seek the opinion of experts before reaching a decision."

Pandher highlighted that crucial demands, including loan waivers, have not been addressed yet. While postponing the 'Delhi Chalo' march for now, he indicated that if unresolved issues persist, the march could proceed on February 21 at 11 am.

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