The farmer unrest in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra is a result of series of events that has threatened the livelihood of farmers.
Here is a list of the events that has led to an accumulated agrarian distress:
Domino 1: Failed Government
The BJP ruled states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra has boasted of having allocated more budgets to agriculture. However, it seems to have done little to ease the lives of famers and crisis they face. Presently, farmers in these states have resorted to agitations over a wide range of issues. The inability of the ruling government to meet their promises formed the basis of their agitation.
Reworking of the MSP (Minimum Support Price), loan waivers and increased interest in agricultural sector were few of the many promises that Narendra Modi had made as a ministerial candidate in 2014. Ironically, the protesting farmers are demanding the exact same today, given the slow progress in the agrarian sector.
Domino 2: Social Media
The movement gained momentum as word spread through social media and mass mobilization of farmer groups took place in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The farmers continued to rebel as the government turned a blind eye towards their demands. Later on, however the government was forced to hold talks with the representatives, since the agitations had intensified.
The agitation found a definitive voice because of social media platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp. A community of farmers exists today because of it. The origin of these protests can be traced to the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The protesters reached a consensus during this protest regarding the origin of the crisis being a result of the low MSP and ineffectiveness of the government.
Domino 3: Supply>Demand
India reported a record increase in the food grain production. However, despite the rise in production, the farmers were unable to sell their produce even at a minimum support price (MSP) because the supply was much higher than the demand. This stemmed from the plentiful harvest and increase in imports. It only goes to show that rise in production alone, cannot lead to good prices for farmers.
Domino 4: Small landholdings
Small landholding makes it difficult for the farmers to use modern machinery, besides most of the Indian farmers are too poor to afford such equipment. Further, due to the growing debts and loan interests, the farmers are compelled to sell their lands. In this process, the farmers are sometimes rendered landless. It also acts as a deterrent when applying for loans or institutional credit.
Domino 5: Demonetisation
The effects of demonetisation lingered and greatly influenced the prices of the agricultural produce. Not getting the required amount on their produce further pushed the farmers in massive debts. Also, farmers require cash on daily basis to buy seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and so on. The withdrawal of the 500 and the 1000 rupee notes, followed by the push towards digitisation alienated the farmers and left them cash starved. Thus, the government’s decision to demonetise specific currency notes, exacerbated the woes of the farmers.
Domino 6: Police Firing
In June 2017, violent protests broke out in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh when at least 5 farmers were killed in a police firing. The angry farmers were protesting for loan waivers and the want of better prices for their produce. Soon, a curfew was called, citing the speedy arrest of police officers involved in the firing. Madhya Pradesh CM, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, ordered an enquiry into the mishap.
It is due to the cumulative and recurring effects of all these events that India is suffering from an agricultural crisis.