Yavatmal (Maharashtra): About 600 farmers sipped piping hot tea and discussed their bleak future over "Chai Par Charcha - Aur Chinta" here Monday afternoon.
Lasting over three hours, the gathering that included 200 women and widows was served only tea and snacks but ended high on demands for the cause of the farming community not only in Maharashtra but the entire country.
It was organised by an NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS).
"It is ironic the festivities of the election victory continue, but there is a need to apply a healing touch to the three million plus farmers in the state, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said when he initiated the first such `Chai Par Charcha` here before the polls," VJAS chief Kishore Tiwari told IANS.
The speakers, including agricultural experts, recalled Modi`s assurance of a minimum support price for cash crops like cotton and soyabeans, loan waiver for farmers, regulator to curb exploitation by seed, fertiliser and pesticide companies, waiver of power bills and other issues.
"Some women speakers sought rehabilitation of over 10,000 widows and their families who became victims of the erroneous policies of the government. Others wanted direct subsidies for new technology and irrigation, administering agronomic practices and related aspects to improve the lot of the farmers," Tiwari added.
After the discussions, the gathering urged the NDA government to announce a "Vidarbha Kisan Bachao Integrated Package" for all the farm suicide-prone and drought-hit regions of not only Maharashtra, but entire India.
The speakers included Aparna Malikar, Vandana Gawande, Gita Rathore, Sushila Mohurle besides agro experts Moreshwar Watile, Suresh Bolenwar, Nitin Kamble, Prem Chavan, Manoh Meshram, Raju Todsam and Mohan Jadhav. Tiwari moderated the discussions.
In his closing remarks, Tiwari said Vidarbha is a classic example of total neglect and apathy of the government on issues of starving farmers and tribals.
He said it was for the first time the country`s prime minister expressed seriousness in taking advice of farmers instead of so-called experts and bureaucrats to resolve their woes, which is "indeed a commendable step".