Retail prices of vegetables soared in several cities as fresh supply of farm produce was hit as the farmers' agitation entered the second day on Saturday with a Left-affiliated farmers body saying the stir would intensify from June 5.
Upset with “no response” from the government, agitating farmers stopped supply of vegetables, fruits, milk and other items to various cities.
There has been “no response” from the government on the demands of the protesting farmers, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) general secretary Ajit Navle told reporters in Mumbai.
"Farmers across Maharashtra are holding protests but the government seems to have a negative approach over keeping the promises it had made to farmers last month," Navle said.
A meeting of farmers' organisations was convened on Saturday and it was decided to intensify the protests from June 5, he said.
"We have given a call to farmers to stop selling their produce meant for cities," Navle said, adding that tur dal was being imported from Mozambique, sugar from Pakistan while milk and sugarcane were being procured from other states despite Maharashtra having them in abundant quantities.
"Thus, as a mark of protest, we will be gifting all these imported food items, along with milk and sugarcane, to the chief minister through the government's tehsil offices," he said.
Earlier this year, the AIKS led a march of thousands of farmers from Nashik in north Maharashtra to Mumbai to press its demands such as complete and unconditional loan waiver and transfer of forest land rights to tribals.
The arrival of vegetables at various market committees and collection of milk in Nashik district were affected.
"All milk dairies in the district are closed and collection centres for milk have been affected. Agitating farmers poured milk on the roads at Visapur in Yeola taluka in the morning today. Arrival of vegetables at market committees is also low," Raju Desale, working president of the AIKS, said.
Several farmers organisations have jointly called the 10-day protest, which started on June 1, across 22 states in the country, demanding remunerative prices for their produce, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and farm loan waivers, among others.
Delhi may face severe problems
Delhi may face problems in supply of fresh vegetables and fruits and other perishables in the next week in case the stir in neighbouring states intensifies.
"The Mandis in Delhi have stocks of the vegetables and other items. The stocks are enough to meet demand for next two days. After that if fresh supplies do not arrive, situation may worsen," said Adil Khan, chairman of Azadpur Mandi.
Situation in Chandigarh
According to traders in Chandigarh, the price of tomatoes soared to Rs 20-25 per kg against Rs 10-15 per kg prevailing two days ago. Similarly, retail prices of potatoes, capsicum, bottle gourd, cucumber, have also gone up on short supplies.
Traders said the fresh supplies of vegetables coming through vehicles in mandis have dwindled, triggering fears of more price rise in coming days.
'Farmers betrayed by Centre, had no choice but to agitate'
“Farmers in six states are agitating against the government policies. They are under debt and are not getting minimum support price, diesel prices are on the rise and all such factors have created resentment among them,” Pilot said in a statement.
“The BJP failed to fulfil promises made to the farmers during elections,” he added.
On the loan-waiver announced by the Rajasthan government, Pilot, the president of the state unit of the Congress said writing-off small loans in the year before assembly polls was hogwash.
“The ground reality is that nearly seven farmers have committed suicide in the last fortnight in the state on not getting adequate prices for their produce,” he said.
“The government should instead of showing off focus on resolving farmers' issues so that the wastage of agricultural produce could be stopped,” Pilot added.
Farmers continued to hold protest at several places in Punjab, including Nabha, Ludhiana, Muktsar, Tarn Taran, Nangal and Ferozepur and there were reports that farmers even put up blockades not to allow supply of vegetables and milk entering cities.
In Ferozepur, farmers allegedly forced the closure of vegetable mandi
In Bathinda, a group of farmers, owing allegiance to the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur), allegedly stopped some milk sellers from going to the city in the morning at village Jodhpur Romana which resulted into heated arguments among them.
Milk sellers were requesting the protesting farmers to allow them to sell their milk but they refused, said police.
Four farmers were taken into preventive custody, said Bathinda police station Sadar SHO Iqbal Singh. The farmers even staged sit-in outside police station demanding release of their fellow farmers.
(With inputs from PTI)