Guwahati, Sept. 25: The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) staged a protest at Krishi Bhawan here today to demand that the Jute Corporation of India (JCI) should increase the minimum support price by three times to ensure maximum profit for jute farmers of the state.
It also demanded that the state government set up jute processing units where jute is cultivated.
The KMSS submitted a memorandum of demands, addressed to Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, state agriculture minister Nilamani Sen Deka and the JCI.
About 1,000 jute cultivators from Barpeta, Dhubri, Darrang and Nagaon districts had arrived in the city to support the agitation as they were reportedly incurring losses in the cultivation of jute, their main source of livelihood.
“The jute farmers in our state are incurring huge losses as the present minimum support price (MSP) of jute is even less than the market price. The present MSP of jute is around Rs 650 per 40kg (maund) of jute, whereas the cost of production of the same is Rs 660-Rs 830,” KMSS general secretary Kamal Kumar Medhi said.
To ensure that the farmers earn maximum profit, we want the JCI to increase the price of jute to three times of what it is now. Besides, it should also increase the MSP every year and also purchase jute from farmers here,” said KMSS general secretary Kamal Kumar Medhi.
“We also want the state government to take legal action against traders who pay jute farmers less than the MSP. Since the jute industry has great potential, the state government should establish such units in all districts where jute is cultivated so that the farmers can sell their produce to them,” said Medhi.
“I have come from Barpeta to participate in this agitation. The MSP of jute is at present is very low and because of inflation the cost of production has also increased a lot over the past few years. It is essential that the price be increased to bail out farmers like us who depend on its cultivation for income,” said Anil Das, a small time jute farmer.
“The state agriculture minister has decided to fix a date for discussion on this issue with us on Friday. We are waiting for the state government’s response,” said Medhi.
Four jute farmers were killed in police firing in October 2011 at Bechimari in Darrang district while they were were protesting against low jute prices. Dispur had assured to set up a jute mill at Bechimari to help add value to the produce in the wake of the death of the four cultivators.