Activists slam Pawar’s ‘pseudo’ concern for farmers
NAGPUR: NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's view during his visit to Yavatmal, that rates available to farmers' produce need to be increased to sustainable levels has left a section of activists miffed.
Kishore Tiwari, farm activist and now the head of state government think-tank on agriculture Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swalamban Mission (VNSSM), says Pawar did not do much about it when he was in power. Tiwari has been operating from Yavatmal through his NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS). Tiwari claimed he had met Pawar in 2012 and briefed him with a proposal to reduce the cost of production for farmers here. Though Pawar appreciated the plan, it was never implemented. "The cost could have been reduced by having a regulator for cost farm inputs like seeds and including jobs in private farms under MNREGA. This could have halved the cost of production leaving a decent margin of profit for the cultivator," he said.
There were several demands to hike the MSP for cotton but the previous government did not heed them, said Tiwari. During his visit to the region in 2006, Pawar had skipped Yavatmal and Wardha, Tiwari recalled. "Now, as a part of the government we are ready to consider all suggestions made by Pawar," he added.
Amit Pawde, an engineer turned farmer, also disapproved the gesture of talking about a price hike while not implementing it when in power. Veteran Shetkari Sanghathanma leader Vijay Jawandhia said, there was no point in criticizing Pawar now. If BJP was in the power it should take steps for increasing MSP for crops like cotton and soyabean that are largely grown in this area.
Dr Prashant Chakkarwar, who runs a NGO Umed in Yavatmal district, said "Pawar is not to be blamed. It is the region's political leadership that failed to improve conditions of farmers in Vidarbha. On the other hand, Pawar took efforts to develop Baramati, his constituency." Chakkarwar, who is also a psychiatrist, has been working on finding potential cases of clinical depression among farmers that may be leading them to commit suicide.