Movement for Paddy Purchase in Bihar

An agitation for paddy purchase was held all over Bihar on 15 November 2016 in response to a call by Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha. Dharnas, protests and meetings were organized at various Block and District Headquarters on the following demands: (i) government procurement centres should be opened in every village (as has been done in Punjab) and paddy should be purchased from small and middle farmers including sharecroppers without having to show land documents; (ii) while the input costs for paddy crop comes not less than Rs 1600 per quintal, the Central government should pay Rs 2500 and the State government should pay a bonus of Rs 500 per quintal; (iii) Rs 30,000 per acre compensation should be paid for crop loss due to drought and floods; (iv) regions with less than 19% of average rainfall till 31 July should be declared drought-affected as per norms fixed by the government. The programmes during the protests also made the demand that the responsibility for preparing the data base (registration) of farmers should be given to the Agriculture Consultant, Agriculture Coordinator, PACS and Vyapaar Mandal, and they should visit every village within a fixed time frame and guarantee the registration of all farmers including sharecroppers wishing to sell their paddy.

At Jehanabad a dharna and meeting were organized at Modanganj block HQ. The speakers at the meeting said that the current paddy purchase rate fixed by the Bihar government is Rs 1470 and Rs 1510 for A grade paddy; this must be revised and raised to Rs 3000, as the production price itself is Rs 1600 per quintal. Sharecroppers are not considered as farmers by the government and they are deprived of all benefits due to farmers, whereas actually they form 60 to 70% of the State’s farmers. Therefore, sharecroppers must get all benefits including crop loss compensation. They also demanded completion of irrigation projects and repairing of defunct tube-wells.

The dharna at Bhojpur District headquarters in Ara saw a good presence of people from outside the organization also in large numbers. Dharnas were also held at Hajipur in Vaishali District, in Patepur, Pakribarama Block (Nawada district), Kauakoul, Sheikhpura, Sonho block (Jamui district), Bhavanipur (Purnia district), Dhamdaha, Srinagar, Banmankhi, Barhara, K. Nagar, Daoodnagar (Aurangabad district), Hussainganj (Siwan), Chenari , Kawath, Bikramganj and Silouthu (Rohtas), and Laheriya Serai (Darbhanga). The dharnas were held from 11 AM to 3 PM and the district officials heard the demands and assured the farmers that their demands would be conveyed to the government.