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Farmers Continue To March From Nashik To Mumbai Over Issues With Onion Prices.

Hundreds of farmers from several regions of Maharashtra have begun marching from Nashik to Mumbai to draw attention to their difficulties, notably rising onion prices. Before walking under the umbrella of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, all participants convened in Nashik. Workers from the unorganized sector, as well as ASHA or community health workers, have joined the “long march” this time. This is the third similar rally organized from Nashik since 2018, and farmers will walk 170 kilometers to the capital.

Why did the farmers start the march?

They are discussing, among other things, the minimum support price for onions, acceptable pricing for agricultural goods and milk products, the waiver of power bills, the delay in the implementation of the Forests Rights Act (FRA), and the plight of tribal people. They will arrive in Mumbai on March 20. On way, the marchers were joyfully welcomed in numerous villages by the residents, provided food and drink, and people showed their support for the cause as they went through.

The Long March to Mumbai: How city residents welcomed the farmers?

Although the march will continue, a 15-member delegation is anticipated to meet with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis soon after a five-hour marathon meeting with Nashik district guardian minister Dada Bhuse last night was unsuccessful. An earlier meeting between the farmers’ representatives and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis was postponed due to the strike called by state government employees who want to return to the Old Pension Plan (OPS).

The CPI (M), Kisan Sabha, and other like-minded organizations organized a similar “long march” in 2018 from Nashik to Mumbai in support of several objectives, including unconditional loan forgiveness and the handover of forest land to tribal farmers who had been cultivating it for years.

Many thousands of farmers had taken part in it. The demonstration was put to an end when it reached Mumbai and the government, which was then run by Devendra Fadnavis, agreed to their demands. Due to the failure to execute the FRA as promised by Fadnavis, many farmers are once again striking.

However, Maharashtra’s state administration and the national govt are both anti-farmers, according to state Congress president Nana Patole. Farmers are not receiving assistance from the government; we want their requests to be met and the previous pension plan to be implemented. If not, a “Kursi Chhodo Andolan” will be held throughout the state.

Several farmers in this Nashik area have shed tears due to the recent three-week price collapse for onions. According to the commodities price index, Lasalgaon onion prices were Rs 1,151 per quintal up until February 4; they then decreased to Rs 550 around February 26–27; and as of March 7, they are now Rs 700 per quintal. Farmers in the area are upset over the collapse and have temporarily halted the Agricultural Product Market Committee (APMC) sale.

Why Tens of Thousands of Maharashtra's Farmers Are Marching Their Way to Mumbai?

Farmers claim that the expense of transportation to get their goods to market is an additional hassle that simply increases their loss. They would have received only ₹2-4 per kilogram. They were left with no choice but to destroy the harvest.

The AIKS released its 17-point charter of demands on Sunday. Among the demands are compensation for onion growers, MSP of ₹2,000 per quintal beginning with the following growing season, better prices for other crops like cotton, soybean, tur, green gram, and milk, as well as matters relating to ASHA employees.

Work has already started for the government. Nashik has become the location of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED), a state-run agricultural produce dealer. Also, the chief minister of Maharashtra, Eknath Shinde, declared on the floor of the Assembly that Nashik, Asia’s largest onion market, had begun to purchase extra onions through NAFED.

AIKS rejects Shinde’s proposal.

AIKS slammed Shinde’s promise to give an ex-gratia of 300 rupees per quintal to onion producers, saying that it was too little and that if it wasn’t increased to at least 600 rupees per quintal, the uprising would worsen. If the government doesn’t communicate with them, they could be forced to stop the Mumbai-Gujarat Highway; only then will authorities pay attention, Nawale said.

The words from the opposition.

Ajit Pawar, the leader of the opposition, and other members of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) have brought up the issue in the Assembly and supported the cause of the struggling farmers. Congress State President Nana Patole, NCP State President Jayant Patil, Shiv Sena-UBT leaders like Bhaskar Jadhav, and others have urged the government to provide farmers experiencing a crisis due to falling prices with between ₹500 and ₹700 per quintal.

The concluding words amid the grief of farmers.

The concluding words amid the grief of farmers.

This is the third such long march in Maharashtra, the first two took place in 2018 and 2019. Look at the irony, marches in 2018 and 2019 due to their pains, and the next 3 years, 2020,2021, and 2022 are devastated by the pandemic. It seems that the farmers of the state have been in some pain for the last 5 years. Let’s see what happens in the fate of farmers in this new year.

Priyanka Chakraborty
Priyanka Chakraborty
Chakraborty is a Digital Journalist at Inventiva who drafts content on current social topics. Her forte is documenting opinionated content based on data, facts, and numbers while adhering to media ethics, which go beyond simply crafting news headlines. Her core intent in writing such content is that every word her viewers read should give meaningful insights to their time spent on the articles.
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