Eminent Farmer Leader Sharad Joshi Passed Away

sharad-joshiSharad joshi, the eminent economist, journalist and famous farmer leader passed away in Pune at his residence today. According to sources, he had been in hospital for a few days and recently discharged. He was the founder of Swatantra Bharat Paksh party and Shetkari Sanghatana, the latter being a non-political union of farmers formed with an aim to “Freedom of access to markets and to Technology”. Mr. Joshi was also a Member of Rajsya Sabha, from Maharashtra.

Born in Satara, he was a former civil servant, working with the Indian Postal Service, and later on with Chief Informatics Service. A former lecturer of Economics and Statistics at the University of Pune, he also worked for the United Nations, prior to the formation of Shetkari Sanghatana.

With the organization, Mr. Joshi has led a lot of agitations on various agricultural issues prevailing in the country. His main arena was Maharashtra and thrust area being the issue of prices offered to the farmers. As a founder leader of the Kisan Coordination Committee, a group of sister organizations from fourteen states, he has spread his protests across the country.

Sharad Joshi is also credited for his role in empowering rural women, with the formation of Shetkari Mahila Aghadi (SMA). The organization pioneers in securing property rights for women.  Under SMA, theLakshmi Mukti’ programme has conferred land titles on lakhs of rural housewives.

He also staunchly advocated SEZs in organic farming, aromatic and medicinal plants, manufacture of hybrid seeds and horticulture, the areas in which India has a comparative advantage. Joshi also emphasized on the need to establish credible certifying agencies for organic farm products.

However, he had a stride through controversies with his endorsing of technologies like Bt cotton. He was also condemned by many for voting against the woman’s reservation bill in March 2010 in Rajya Sabha.