Hyderabad: Turmeric farmers in Telangana’s Nizamabad district are demanding Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Dharmapuri Arvind’s resignation for not keeping his promise of setting up a Turmeric Board in the district. For several months, the Turmeric Farmers Joint Action Committee has been protesting demanding the turmeric board and remunerative prices for turmeric.
On January 24 and 25, the protesting farmers burnt the effigies of Arvind at several places in Nizamabad. On January 23, the Joint Action Committee also demanded that MP Arvind to resign if the turmeric board is not set up in the district within ten days.
“MP Arvind had promised to set up a turmeric board during the election campaign. He had even written on bond paper that he will resign if the board is not set up. But after getting elected, he is not even considering the plight of struggling turmeric farmers,” said Chinta Srikumar, a farmer from Kammarpally village in Nizamabad district. He added that the farmers will protest at every event Arvind will attend in the district.
In the 2019 elections, over 170 turmeric farmers contested elections bringing the Nizamabad constituency into spotlight to highlight their demand for setting up the Turmeric board.
Reportedly, last year, turmeric was cultivated in about 1.39 lakh acres of land in Nizamabad, Nirmal, Jagityal, Warangal and Adilabad districts.
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“The minimum support price for turmeric was Rs 15,000 per quintal in 2012. It has come down to Rs 5,000 per quintal now. Over years, farmers have been demanding for a turmeric board so that the needs of the farmers will be addressed,” said Rajashekar Reddy from Jagityal. He was one of the 170 farmers who contested independently in the 2019 parliamentary elections. “I have been cultivating turmeric on my eight acres of agricultural land and my annual income is less than Rs 3 lakhs.” said Reddy.
Opposition parties, Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist) are demanding the state government to buy the turmeric crop at the MSP until the board is set up by the BJP-led central government.
On January 9 and 10, hundreds of farmers staged a ‘Rasta Roko’ (road blockade) on NH 44 near Mamidipally village in Nizamabad.
Congress leader Bhatti Vikramarka has accused the BJP government at the Centre and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government in the state of neglecting the plight of the farmers. In a statement, he said that turmeric is grown every year over thousands of acres in Telangana state but farmers are not getting an appropriate price for their hard work.
Farmers’ organisations have also been campaigning against the new farm laws in the state. “Farmers are incurring massive losses as proper MSP prices are not given for several crops. If the agriculture markets are opened for corporates, the remunerative prices will further fall,” said S Rama from Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), who is campaigning in Nizamabad as part of the ‘Karmika Karshaka Poru Yatra’.
“Turmeric farmers are left with no other option but to protest until the turmeric board is set up,” Reddy added.