MUMBAI, June 1 Farmers from India's western
state of Maharashtra started an indefinite strike on Thursday,
curtailing the supply of vegetables, fruits and milk to cities
like Mumbai in a move that could push up food prices in the
Indebted farmers are demanding a waiver on loans from the
government of the big farming state similar to the $5.6 billion
in debt forgiveness announced by the northern state of Uttar
Pradesh in April.
"We were forced to strike as the chief minister couldn't
assure us that a loan waiver will be implemented quickly," said
farmers' leader Dhanjay Jadhav, who met Chief Minister Devendra
Fadnavis and other state representatives on Tuesday.
Maharashtra needs to spend 305 billion rupees ($4.73
billion) to write off debts owed by 3.2 million farmers,
Fadnavis had said in April.
"We will continue to strike until our demands of loan waiver
and remunerative prices for agriculture produce are met. Instead
of sending vegetables and milk to the cities, we will dispose of
them in our villages," Jadhav said.
On Thursday morning, farmers in the state blocked vehicles
ferrying vegetables and milk to cities and dumped their loads of
produce on to the road in many places.
"Farmers have set up check posts on national highways to
ensure vehicles carrying vegetables and fruits cannot enter the
city," said a trader based at Vashi market on the outskirts of
"Prices have started to rise due to lower supplies. If
tomorrow trucks fail to enter into the market then prices could
rise sharply," he said.
In April, farmers from Tamil Nadu demanding debt relief
staged a grisly protest in New Delhi, pretending to eat live
rats and showing the skulls of neighbours who they said had
($1 = 64.4650 rupees)
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Douglas Busvine)