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Friday, January 6, 2012

Farmers' strike in West Bengal, India

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Most farmers in the West Bengal have resorted to distress sales of paddy after the autumn harvest this year.
To highlight the plight of farmers inn West Bengal, peasant organisations of four Left parties had called a statewide agriculture strike on the anniversary of the 1946 Tebhaga Movement.

The strike received response across the state as per reports from the state unit of All India Kisan Sabha. Farmers blamed the policies of the Centre and state governments that have led to the farmers not even recovering their input costs from their produce.

Farmers in West Bengal have been bound to sell the yield of paddy at rates much below the minimum support price fixed by the centre. Prices in the market were too low that farmers did not want to through good money on transport cost. Hence, many farmers discarded their crops.

The input costs of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and labour have all shot up substantially this year. On the other hand, farmers are not even being paid the rates they were paid last year.

Reports say that since various agencies involved in the procurement of paddy including organisations like the West Bengal State Cooperative Marketing Federation do not purchase paddy, farmers across the state are being forced to sell their paddy in distress sales.

The Food Corporation of India is buying rice from rice mills in which middle men have the final say, as per reports, about the prices of the produce. Farmers have reportedly told that corruption in the procurement systems at several rice mills meant that farmers were being paid between Rs. 450 to 510 per sack of paddy instead of Rs. 648 that had been fixed by the government.

Key Words: West Bengal, farmers, West Bengal State Cooperative Marketing Federation

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