Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today congratulated Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on echoing the Lok Satta Party view that farmers should not be made sacrificial goats for industry.
Addressing a media conference, Dr. JP referred to Mr. Sharad Pawar's letter to the Prime Minister complaining against the ban on export of cotton to safeguard the interests of the textile industry.
Dr. JP said that India is poised for phenomenal agricultural growth if only Government policies are conducive. Unfortunately, the Governments have been persisting with antiquated and license-permit-control raj policies. India is losing international trade heavily even as farmers are put to great distress. While input prices have been continuously spiraling, farm gate prices have been plummeting. Massive liberalization of agriculture on the lines of the one carried out in industry by Dr. Manmohan Singh in 1991 is the need of the hour.
Dr. JP recalled that he had a detailed discussion with the Prime Minister a year ago on the parlous state of agriculture. Although the Prime Minister agreed with his analysis, he is yet to take remedial measures.
Dr. JP recalled that the Union Government permitted rice exports only after repeated representations by the Federation of Independent Farmers' Associations (FIFA), the Lok Satta Party and political parties.
Dr. JP said that thanks to the Dandi-type agitation launched by the Lok Satta Party, farmers in Andhra Pradesh benefited to the tune of Rs.1200 crore as the price of fine varieties of paddy went up from Rs.750 to Rs.1000 a bag.
It may be recalled that farmers led by Dr. JP defied the Government's ban on export of certain varieties of rice outside the State and carried out token sales in neighboring States. The Government was forced to concede that it imposed an informal ban in contravention of laws and Government of India guidelines.