All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All India Agricultural Workers' Union (AIAWU) have urged the central government to ensure harvesting and procurement of Rabi crops at remunerative prices before extending the lockdown any further. Alleging that prices of mustard and channa have crashed from Rs 4,800-5,000 per quintal to Rs 1,000 in key markets, both associations jointly demanded all standing crops like wheat, paddy, mustard, chana, chillies, pulses, etc to be protected to save the farmers and agricultural workers, as well as ensure food security of the country.
The associations also linked more than 150 deaths to the 'unplanned, unprepared and mismanaged lockdown and the accompanying loss of employment, earning, hunger, as well as all round distress'. They wanted concrete measures to protect farmers, workers and farm produce prices before extending the lockdown for another two weeks.
"Crop loss and income losses must be compensated. Free seeds and other inputs at subsidised rates must be provided for next season. Rs 5,000 per month must be transferred to the people below poverty. A separate allocation of Rs 4 lakh crore must be announced for this purpose," the associations demanded in a joint statement.
The associations wanted the government to provide Rs 6,000 each to all farmers - including tenant farmers and sharecroppers - under the PM-KISAN as first instalment and the total benefit to be enhanced to Rs 18,000 per year. "All agricultural workers under MGNREGA must be given Rs 300 per day or minimum wage prevalent in respective states, whichever may be higher, using the Unemployment Wage clause in the Act. State governments must be assisted with a special package with the autonomy to use for social security measures and augment health facilities. Under the National Disaster Management Act, special relief package for artisans, fishing community, Adivasis and Dalits and all economic classes adversely affected by lockdown must be announced," they demanded.
The statement, signed by Ashok Dhawale, (president AIKS), Hannan Mollah (general secretary AIKS), A Vijayaraghavan (president, AIAWU), and B Venkat (general secretary AIAWU), also demanded the release of buffer stock of food grains for ensuring 35 kg per family. "The Kerala Model wherein other than the foodgrains under National Food Security Act, other essentials like 2 varieties of cooking oils, 3 varieties of pulses, spices like chilli powder, turmeric, methi, sugar, soaps, sooji-rava, tea, etc have been given to 87 lakh beneficiaries must be emulated," they said.
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