The first event of Kisan Swaraj Yatra in AP got a thumping welcome in the Telangana region, with 450 people participating at Jangaon in Warangal district. Slogans rang around the main streets as we had a big rally through the town, “Farmers’ welfare is nation’s welfare”, “Companies that loot farmers, gotta go; Ministers who are company agents, gotta go” “Farmer who feeds us, dont commit suicide”. This is an area that saw a large number of suicides, especially of cotton farmers, in the past few years. At the public meeting attended by 450 people, the intense feelings of farmers going through a crisis and the anger at systemic neglect were compellingly expressed.
A broad range of organizations took part and spoke from the dais – such as the farmer unions of various parties who might otherwise be political opponents, large farmer organizations such as Federation of Farmers’ Associations, Telangana orgns like Telanganga Vidyavantula Vedika and Telangana Raitanga Samakhya, statewide organizations like Jana Vigyana Vedika, organizations promoting sustainable agriculture such as CROPS and PEACE, Enabavi Organic Farmers Cooperative, Anthra which works with communities dependent on livstock, and groups working with families of farmers who committed suicides. A police official who was at the meeting remarked, “I have never seen all these organizations coming onto the same platform. How did you all manage this?” This was the outcome of a conscious effort of engaging with everyone; in fact the pamphlet publicizing the event and the final list of demands from the region, were all jointly approved.
The special problems of the region were coherently brought out by the various speakers – such as the extensive undulating dryland and rainfed cultivation, neglect of the dryland crops and promotion of cash crops, loss of livestock, electricity issues for groundwater irrigation and neglect of irrigation tanks. Prof. Kodandram, eminent intellectual of the region and a leader of the Telangana movement, gave a sharp stirring speech on the agriculture issues of the region and gave a call for a united fight on these issues. He said that the energies unleashed by the Telangana movement are required for tackling these issues, and pointed out that independent of how the separate state agitation turns out, we need to work on the agricultural problems.
The meeting ended with the adoption of resolutions for turning around agriculture in this region and making it an economically viable occupation.