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Business News/ News / No immediate plan to resume talks with farmers; govt. to find a solution soon: Arjun Munda
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No immediate plan to resume talks with farmers; govt. to find a solution soon: Arjun Munda

The Union agriculture minister is engaging with farmers' unions along with two other ministers in a bid to resolve the deadlock

Demonstrators on tractors travel along the Yamuna Expressway during a protest organized by farmers in Noida, India, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. India's government ordered Elon Musk's X to block certain accounts and posts on the social media platform, apparently in reaction to ongoing farmer protests in the country. Photographer: Prakash Singh/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)Premium
Demonstrators on tractors travel along the Yamuna Expressway during a protest organized by farmers in Noida, India, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. India's government ordered Elon Musk's X to block certain accounts and posts on the social media platform, apparently in reaction to ongoing farmer protests in the country. Photographer: Prakash Singh/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

NEW DELHI : The government does not have an immediate plan to resume talks with protesting farmers, but it will find a solution soon, Union agriculture and farmers' welfare minister Arjun Munda  said on Wednesday.

He is in a group of ministers engaging with farmers on their current protests.

The fourth round of talks which took place over a week ago in Chandigarh was inconclusive, driving farmers to resume their ‘Delhi chalo’ protest.

“There is no immediate plan to resume the talks, but the government will soon find a solution to address farmers' concerns," said Munda on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Farmers said they would pause their ‘Delhi chalo’ march till 29 February but will stay put along the Punjab-Haryana border until then.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM), the two farmers' outfits spearheading the protest at the Shambu and Khanuari borders announced a series of protests until a decision on the next move is made on 29 February.

The two umbrella bodies represent 200 farm unions. Farmers from Punjab began marching to the national capital on 13 February.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said the government is committed to the welfare of farmers and till now more than 3 trillion has been given directly to the peasants under the 'PM Kisan Samman Nidhi' scheme.

"Under the leadership of Honorable Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji, our government is committed to the welfare of farmers. Today Modi ji will provide an amount of more than 21 thousand crore to more than 9 crore farmers through DBT under the 16th installment of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi," Shah wrote on X in Hindi.

Farmers want press the union government to fulfill a series of demands such as a legal guarantee for minimum support prices, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, and farm debt waiver. They also want higher duties on imported agricultural produce, as duty-free imports lead to lower farmgate prices.

Farmer leaders recently turned down the government’s proposal of a 5-year assured purchase of cotton, pulses and maize at MSP saying that the proposal was not in their interest, adding that they want a legal MSP guarantee for all 23 crops, not just pulses, maize, and cotton.

The latest round of protests comes on the back of muted farm earnings over the past year, as the government placed export curbs on wheat, rice, sugar and onion, depressing local prices.

Farm incomes were also hit due to repeated climate shocks like heat waves and uneven rains.

The last ‘situation assessment survey’ report published by the National Statistical Office in mid-2021 showed farm households earned just 10,218 per month on average. Close to half their monthly earnings came from non-farm sources including wage earnings. Average household debt was recorded at over 74,000.

The government had earlier set a target to double farm incomes in the five years to 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence. However, it is yet to update on the progress made till date.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based reporter, covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate change policies for Mint. Puja reports on food security, farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy along with policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP21 in Paris. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
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Published: 28 Feb 2024, 08:01 PM IST
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