Jammu, Mar 7: The Jammu and Kashmir Kisan Tehreek on Sunday demanded minimum support price (MSP) and agricultural loans to small farmers and orchardists of the union territory.
In a daylong conference in Kathua district, the farmers' organisation also expressed concern over the lack of procurement centres and inadequate compensation to farmers of Jammu and Kashmir.
CPI(M) leader, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who was part of the conference, said the core sectors of Jammu and Kashmir's economy -- agriculture and horticulture -- have totally been neglected by the government, despite that a major chunk of the union territory's population is dependent on these sectors.
He said the issue of fair price for produce by ensuring MSP for all crops has been a long pending demand of farmers.
The government must include basmati and the Kashmir fruit industry under MSP, Tarigami said.
This demand, despite repeated promises and assurances, has not been fulfilled by the government till date, he added.
On the Jammu and Kashmir administration's move to retrieve state and forest land from encroachers, the CPI(M) leader alleged that it is dispossessing villagers from the land they have been farming from decades.
Because of the administration's move, thousands of apple trees, too, have been chopped off. Even saplings have not been spared, he claimed.
"This is unfortunate and must be stopped immediately. The government's move is aimed at dispossessing them and attacking their livelihoods," Tarigami said.
"We demand immediate compensation and immediate halt to this alleged eviction," he said.
President Kisan Tehreek, Jammu Province, Banarasi Das, termed as arbitrary and against farmers' interest the Jammu and Kashmir administration's decision to annul a March 2015 announcement of then finance minister of waiving water tax on agricultural land.
He demanded the immediate revocation of the administration's order.
Das claimed that the administration has directed officials to collect water taxes from farmers from March 2015 onwards.
"It is sheer injustice with farmers to force them to pay now when they had been given some relief by the then government," he said.
The organisation's Kathua president Sewa Ram said, "There are hardly a few crop procurement centres in the district. The region is also vulnerable to natural calamities, but a crop insurance scheme has not been implemented fully so far."
General secretary Kisan Tehreek Jammu region Sohan Lal said that the government is paying meagre compensation to farmers whose land has been acquired for developmental projects.
The authorities must pay suitable compensation to those whose land has been or is to be acquired, he said.
CPI(M)'s Tarigami said that under the free trade agreement various fruits are imported in the country and demanded 100 per cent custom duty be charged on these imported fruits.
"It is an obligation for the government to come to the support of farmers as they form the backbone of the Jammu and Kashmir's economy and have always been suffering on account weather vagaries," he added.
The leader said that biggest challenge facing the growers and kisans is the menace of pests and diseases and in absence of any fool proof mechanism to curb the sub-standard and spurious pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers.