Sunday, 6 December 2020
Agriculture in India has been known to have begun by 9000BCE, the Punjab region is notable in its contribution to the state’s gross product.
In fact, Punjab produces 20% of the nation’s wheat, 11% of its rice and 11% of its cotton. India in general is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses, jutem and it is also one of the leading producers of spices, fish, poultry, livestock and plantation crops.
The region was particularly significant during the Green Revolution, which occured between the 1950s and the late 1960s. Punjab played a pivotal role in achieving the much-needed food security for India due to its growth in Agriculture increasing at 5.7 percent annum.
Following this successful period for farming, agriculture growth began to decline from zero to negative growth rates. Despite this, land in Punjab was becoming more consolidated. Small farmers leased their land to bigger farmers as a strategy of survival.
Furthermore, climate change has become increasingly problematic with weakening of the monsoon and divertion of the five rivers. This has caused farming to become more expensive due to the technology needed to be implemented in order to harvest crops.
As of today more than half of Indians work on farms, despite most of these individuals being small/marginal farmers over 90% of them are selling their products on the market.
However, the struggle for survival has led to many farmers committing suicide, with the rates only increasing.
I stand with farmers 2020
Recently three new Agriculture bills were passed which aim to deregulate Indian agriculture, by encouraging farmers to sell directly to companies.
The reforms as follows are:
- Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Produce and Facilitation) Act
- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Reassurance and Farm Services Act
- Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act
These new policies are against the best interests of small and marginal farmers. As a result, this has led to hundreds and thousands of farmers marching upon Delhi in protest of these laws, as well as leading to marches around the world.
These bills have been described as “corporate-friendly and anti-farmer”, with the removal of MSP (Minimum Support Price). Minimum support price is a price set by the Government of India on an agricultural product to purchase directly from the farmer. MSP ensures that farmers receive a fair price on their agricultural product without getting exploited by big corporations.
This is a major concern for farmers as they will have less control on bargaining prices making farmers vulnerable to big corporates negotiating lower prices. In fact, 65% of Wheat is procured by MSP, considering this percentage the removal of MSP could lead the majority of farmers to lose their income and even their land.
These reforms could lead to starvation for Small and poorer farming families.
More than just land?
Land for Farmers symbolizes status and pride.
It symbolises festivity, since Vaisakhi commemorates the Harvest season – many celebrate this occasion wearing colourful clothes, bhangra and singing.
What will there be to celebrate when farmers lose their land?
If it wasn’t for farmers, our vibrant culture would be missing.
Many of our ancestors and families were farmers. Their immense hard work and dedication to Agriculture allowed many individuals to go abroad and live a better lifestyle in America, Canada, UK and many other countries.
They joined each penny for us, therefore it is our duty to fight for them; to stand alongside farmers and their families; to ensure justice and equality; live up to the path our families planted for us with blood, sweat and tears.
Despite these protests being carried out peacefully within India, they have been met with violence by the police. It is horrific and shocking to see the elderly being beaten and hosed by water cannons as a result of fighting for their rights.
Being treated in such a dreadful manner has not stopped protestors. They still continue to show perseverance as well as compassion and selflessness to each other and even the policemen.
As Sikhs, we shall live our Gurus teachings to live fearlessly and stand up to justice, no matter what the consequences.
To treat no one as a enemy, no one as a stranger. To get along with everyone.
What can you do?
This is not just an issue associated with Sikhs or Punjab but rather the world. If there is no farming, thereis no food.
You can share and learn about this through social media pages as it is important to educate those who may not be familarised with the events on the importance of this issue.
You can also donate to Khalsa Aid, who are currently helping the protesters in India by serving langar as well as providing other essential commodities. https://www.khalsaaid.org/donate
If you would like to contribute further please sign the petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/563473?fbclid=IwAR2k-HPJOKjdetjmd9Epcaov-n4m0BeapXOcIIPLKHjXZaL6P9LAcc09Mmw