Demand protection of Right to Food and Procurement of Crops
On the occasion of World Food Day, a Roundtable meeting titled “Protect Right to Food – Strengthen PDS and MSP” was organized at Sundarayya Kendram by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) and the farmer organizations who are part of it. This was organized in the light of the Central government notification to all states that they should begin replacing the Public Distribution System with DBT scheme to give cash instead of rations. All the participants strongly opposed the concerted actions by the Central government to dismantle PDS and phase away the Minimum Support System and procurement of crops.
The farmer organizations demanded that the government should immediately stop the moves to replace PDS with Cash Transfers. Instead they should give enhanced Minimum Support Price to farmers and expand the procurement to include millets, pulses and oilseeds. AIKSCC stated that the Govt. of India buys more than 65 million tonnes of food grain from peasants at a Minimum Support Price and distributes the same in rations. With DBT govt. will stop procuring, it will end MSP pricing, it will wind up FCI godowns as per Shanta Kumar Committee recommendations.
The farmer organizations demanded the protection of Right to Food for the poor and underprivileged, with continuation of PDS system with good quality rice as well as pulses, sugar, cooking oil and salt to each family every month to secure food and well-being. In the name of circumventing corruption, the govt proposes NO FOOD, ONLY CASH, i.e. DBT or Direct Benefit Transfer. All cash schemes too are riddled with corruption which has continued to rise with the NDA regime since 2014. Food is a basic and universal right. More than 19 crore people of India sleep hungry every day. More than 48% children below 5 years of age in India are malnourished and stunted. Among the 79 countries listed to have severe malnutrition, India ranks 65thbelow Nepal and Bangladesh.
Leaders of 11 organizations participated in the roundtable including Telangana Rythu Sangham, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Telangana Rythu JAC, Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Telangana Rythanga Samiti, Telangana Vyavasaya Karmika Sangham, A.P. Vyavasaya Vruttidarula Union, Human Rights Forum, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Telangana Raitanga Samakhya, and Telangana Rythu Sankshema Samiti. The main speakers included included Ravi Kanneganti, Justice Chandrakumar, Vemulapalli Venkatramayya, Dr.A.Prasad Rao, T.Sagar, Kirankumar Vissa, Bonthala Chandra Reddy, Sambayya and Dharmapal.
In light of the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, the farmer organizations also alleged that the WTO is pressurizing the government to wind up food subsidy. It is already stopping cooking gas subsidy and kerosene oil subsidy. It has already reduced fertilizer subsidy. AIKSCC demands that Indian Government should take a strong stand and not sacrifice food security, sovereignty and farmers’ interests to protect corporate trade interests with developed countries.
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) consists of about 200 farmers’ organizations from across the country including all the major national level organizations. AIKSCC is organizing nation-wide Kisan Mukti Yatra which has already completed 14 states in the first 3 phases (Western India, South India and North India). Three more phases of the Yatra are planned, and the culmination will be in a historic national farmers’ rally and Kisan Sansad at Delhi from November 20th.
Contact: Kirankumar Vissa (Rythu Swarajya Vedika): 9701705743; T.Sagar (Telangana Rythu Sangham): 9490098055; V.Venkatramayya (All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha): 8639873720; Ravi Kanneganti (Telangana Rythu JAC):9912928422;