A 3 member delegation of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh visited kashmir valley from 21st to 25th November. This delegation consisted of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh’s National President Shiv Kumar Kakkaji, National General Secretary J. K. Patel and National President of the youth wing Abhimanyu Kohar. This delegation was hosted by Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh’s State President of Jammu and Kashmir Tanveer Ahmed Dar, State General Secretary Imtiaz Khandey, State President of Youth wing Amanjeet Singh & State Spokesperson Ashiq Hussain.
The delegation visited more than 25 villages including Panditpora, Adura, Kalamchakala, Kalmabad, Kurhu, Yarru, Sharkwara, Kanispura, Upalina, Katiawali, Singhpura, Tanmarg, Langate, Pampore, Wataragaon, Kaziabad, Palahalan, Highgam, Bulgam in Kashmir & met thousands of farmers despite heavy rainfall. Even in nights, delegation stayed in Villages to have a interaction with farmers. In rural areas, 85% of the population is dependent on income from apple orchards. The unseasonal snowfall on 7 November has broken the backbone of apple farmers. 50% of the apple trees are damaged. More than 15 days has passed since natural calamity in form of snowfall, still no official has reached the villages to access the damage caused by the snowfall. Most farmers have not yet received compensation for the losses caused by the snowfall in 2018. A farmer said that he received a check of Rs 500 as compensation for the loss caused last year and when he went to deposit it in the bank, the bank demanded a fee of Rs 600 for opening the account.
It takes 20 to 25 years for an apple tree to fully develop. Farmers said that a tree has to be raised like a child with utmost care & precautions. A farmer in Panditpora village said that in the last 20 years, the input cost of his crop has been increasing continuously, but the price he is getting for apple produce is still same as 20 years ago. An elderly farmer of Adura village said that now his condition has become such that he can’t even cry.
Former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satyapal Malik had said in past that Nafed would buy apples worth Rs 5500 crore from farmers. In recent times, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that each farmer’s apple produce in Kashmir will be purchased by Nafed and she described the procurement of apple by Nafed as a complete success. After taking stock of the ground situation, all the claims of the government appeared to be false. In our entire tour, We did not find a single farmer whose apple produce was bought by Nafed. A farmer told that he had gone to Sopore Mandi to sell his apple produce to Nafed, but there Nafed put the price of the highest quality apples at Rs 300 per 15 kg, earlier traders bought the same for Rs 600. Farmers told that the officials related to NAFED in the mandis arrives around 12.30 pm and go back after some time, after that they come for half an hour in evening & complete formality.
In recent times, apple farmers and truck drivers from other states have been threatened by terrorists and many truck drivers have been killed, so that truck drivers from outside states did not go to the valley to pick apples. Because of this, the price of apple transport has more than doubled. Earlier the fare of a apple box from Kashmir to Azadpur mandi of Delhi was Rs 70, which has now increased to more than Rs 150. Apart from this, the national highway from Jammu to Kashmir remains closed for most of the winter, due to which sometime apple is damaged in trucks standing on the side of the road. The farmers said that they have to repay the loan of KCC in the upcoming month of March but due to the unseasonal snowfall that damaged their apple crop, now they will not be able to repay the KCC loan on time due to which the bank officials will harass them in the future.
Due to unseasonal rains in the rural areas of Jammu, farmers’ basmati rice crop has been completely damaged. The rate of basmati rice has fallen from 4500/quintal last year to Rs. 2000/quintal this year.
After talking to thousands of farmers, the delegation came to the conclusion that the farmers of Jammu and Kashmir are the most exploited, oppressed and distressed as compared to farmers of other states. The farmers of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering from many problems, some of them are as follows –
1). Farmers in Jammu & Kashmir needs their land & 2 Government employees as guarantor for getting KCC loan while there is no such rule in other states.
2). Only Sub-standard pesticides are available to farmers in Kashmir. One farmer told that 20 years ago, he had to use only two types of pesticides but today despite the advancement of science, he has to use 18 types of pesticides which results in increase in input cost of his crop. Politicians, Bureaucrats & pesticide companies are involved in this scam of sub-standard pesticides.
3). The horticulture and agriculture departments of Jammu and Kashmir are complete failure. There is a lot of anger among farmers towards agriculture and horticulture departments.
4). Farmers in Mandis are charged 12% commission by merchants in Kashmir. All Mandis are government properties but controlled by private merchants without any government monitoring.
5). Incidents of merchants running away with apple produce of farmers without payment are common in Kashmir. The licenses of merchants are not properly verified in the Kashmir Valley before allowed to operate in Mandi’s of valley.
6). Soil testing scheme in Jammu and Kashmir has completely failed. Even after more than 1 year, farmers do not get their soil test report.
A delegation of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh will meet Union agriculture minister in very near future & demand immediate compensation for farmers in Jammu & Kashmir. If Government doesn’t provide immediate relief to farmers then we will choose the path of Nationwide movement. Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh is working hard day & night to bring Jammu & Kashmir’s farmers in Mainstream farmers movement. Earlier Abhimanyu Kohar, National President of Youth wing of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh wrote a detailed report on Kashmir titled “Kashmir bhi Humara, Kashmiri bhi Humare”.
Central Government has started discussion on India-US free trade agreement. Governemt will import Apple, Dairy products, Walnut, Almond, Soyabean under this FTA which will have severe consequences for farmer community. If Government decides to go ahead on India-US free trade agreement then Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh will start movement by organizing a farmers convention in Kashmir. On 13th November 2019, commerce & industry minister Piyush Goyal & US trade representatives Robert Lighthizer met and finalized the time frame of trade agreement in Washington. Our farmers can’t compete with US farmer because US is giving subsidies worth 956 billion dollar to their farmers in next 10 years. Rashtriya kisan mahasangh will give memorandum to District officials on the name of PM demanding withdrawl from India-US trade negotiations on 18th december. Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh will write letter to Members of Parliament & Members of Legislative assemblies and we will thank all of them for their support in our movement against RCEP. In the same letter, we will ask them to raise the issue of India-US free trade agreements in Parliament & assemblies.
In upcoming month, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh will publish a detailed report on farmers of Jammu & Kashmir and our recommendations to improve conditions of farmers in Jammu & Kashmir.
Ghulam Hasan, Naseer Ahmad, Iftikhar Ahmad Parray, Shahbaz Rajjaq, Mohammad Ashraf, Zahoor Ahmad Dar, Abdul Rasheed, Bashir Ahmad, Bashrat Famda, Javed Ahmad, Daljeet Singh, Rajender Singh, Wahid Ul Rehman, Wasid Lone, Irshad Mir, Ali Mohamamd Malik, Raja Akbar, Mohammad Akbar wani, Mohammad Maqbool played a very important role in organizing this complete visit, we thanks them a lot.
National President, Youth Wing, Rashtriya kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh
National Spokesperson, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh