Vidarbha, hitherto associated with farmers’ suicide, has found place in the global map for an entirely different and refreshing reason. The region will host an annual WorldAgriculture Forum from 2012 onwards to address global agrarian crisis. This was announced by Prof MS Swaminathan, agricultural scientist, on Sunday at the end of the three-day Chennai Conclave of the Ramon Magsaysay Award winners.
“More than 335 farmers from Vidarbha region have committed suicide in the last four months. Magsaysay Award winners from various countries who attended this first-ever conclave of this kind were unanimous in their view that suicide by farmers of Vidarbha has to be taken up on a war-footing. Hence we decided to hold a summit of agriculture scientists, economists, farmers and policy makers at Vidarbha itself so that suicide by farmers will become a thing of the past,” said Prof Swaminathan, one of the founding fathers of the country’s Green Revolution. He said participants from countries such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, China and India felt that agriculture scientists, economists, bankers and policy makers should visit Vidarbha and interact with the farmers. “To ensure that no farmers anywhere in the world commits suicide, we will make the WAF (named tentatively) an annual event to discuss agrarian crisis of all kinds. As a mark of respect to those in the Vidarbha region who resorted to the extreme step, we propose to host this annual event in Vidarbha itself. Our mission is to make farmers secure and safe,” said Prof Swaminathan.
Both Prof Swaminathan and Cynthia Rose Bautista, chairperson, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, said the communiqué prepared by the award winners was being drafted as Chennai declaration and would be released within a week.
“One of the suggestions was to institute pre-sawing procurement price and post-procurement price to the farmers in addition to the minimum support price. Another well received proposal was the setting up of a Sarvodaya University in Sri Lanka to empower the people,” he said.
Bautista said all Magsaysay awardees will have to sweat it out even after they are honoured.
“The Chennai Conclave is a prelude to the new initiative. The awardees will have to offer innovative solutions to resolve issues in areas where they have excelled themselves,” she said.