Hundreds of farmers assembled at Rajghat for culmination of
Kisan Swaraj Yatra
Hundreds of farmers assembled at Rajghat for culmination of Kisan Swaraj Yatra
Even the chills of Delhi could not diminish the energy of farmers who came from all over India to warn the nation about the grave consequences of ignoring crisis in Indian agriculture. The zeal in the crowd was noticeable and it seemed for many farmers the freedom struggle wasn’t over in spite of the nation getting political freedom. The gathering at Rajghat, the memorial for Mahatma Gandhi, for the culmination of the 71-day long Kisan Swaraj Yatra had representatives from all parts of India and defined its diversity.
The nation-wide Kisan Swaraj Yatra was an initiative to bring together people from all sections of society on the issue of sustainability in Indian farming. It travelled through 100 districts of 20 states and interacted with farmers, consumers, agriculture scientists, political activists and others through public meetings, informal interactions, field visits and citizen forums. The Yatra was organized by ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture), a network of NGOs across the country.
More than 200 farmers and activists travelled by bus across the country to share sustainable agricultural practices with farmers and to give them a message of hope. It also appealed to all citizens to save our food and farming systems and to pose a challenge to the governments that are adopting anti-farmer policies.
“Kisan Swaraj Yatra calls for a comprehensive new path for Indian agriculture – a path that will provide livelihood and food security for our farmers, keep our soils alive, and our food and water poison-free,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, co-convenor of ASHA, who led the Yatra.
“Farmers are indeed struggling to have a dignified living through farming and to hold on to their resources in most places. Farmers repeatedly raised the issue of high costs of farming coupled with non-remunerative prices pushing them into distress,” she added.
Dr G. V. Ramanjaneyulu of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture put forth the demands of the Yatra: “The government has to guarantee income security to all farming households, ensure environmental sustainability in our agriculture and protect the rights and resources of farmers including on seed and land. Only then can we have sustainable livelihoods assured for our annadaatas”.
Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, President of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, declared that the time had come for a second freedom struggle, this time to regain our land, water and other natural resources from the grip of the MNCs. He said that the latest ploy of the agrochemical companies was to take over the most essential component of our farming – Seed.
The farmers and representatives of the ASHA later met UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and briefed her about the Kisan Swaraj Policy, a charter of demands to ensure sustainable farming, protection of the livelihoods of the farmers and farm workers and food safety and security of the nation.