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The dull days of White Gold

Posted by Ramoo on April 17, 2009

P Sainath , 08 Apr 2009

Across India, cotton growers make up the largest group of the over 180,000 farmers who committed suicide between 1997 and 2007. There’s nothing like an election to spur policy change, though, notes P Sainath.
08 April 2009 – They called it White Gold. In 1972, you could buy 15 grams of gold with what you earned from producing one quintal of cotton. In Vidarbha, for instance, you made Rs.340 for that quintal (long staple). And gold went at Rs.220 for 10 grams (Rs.330 for 15). True, the cotton growers were even then subsidising rich textile barons in Mumbai. They still do – a lot more, in fact. But ‘back then’ seems a lot better right now, relatively speaking.

By the 1990s, that trend had been reversed. From the 1970s to mid-1985, cotton was, as Vijay Jawandia calls it, “the poor man’s cloth.” Man-made fabric was all the rage. By the end of the 1980s, however, a growing bias towards natural fibre saw cotton emerge as the rich man’s cloth. All the big brand names were cashing in on cotton. Yet, cotton farmers in the poorer nations were doing worse. Corporations and traders were doing better. By the mid to late 1990s, obscene subsidies to cotton growers from the United States and the European Union were already pulling the prices downwards.

By 2005, you needed to sell five quintals of cotton to buy 15 grams of gold. By early 2008, gold was at Rs.12,125 for 10 grams, cotton at Rs. 2000 a quintal. You now needed to sell nine quintals of cotton to buy 15 grams of gold. The living standards of farmers in cotton-growing regions like Vidarbha had fallen sharply. Cotton prices and incomes were crashing, debt and cultivation costs soaring. The 2004 Lok Sabha polls saw a wave of farmer anger – and the BSP’s rise – bludgeon the Congress. The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won 10 of the then 11 seats in Vidarbha.

But in the Maharashtra Assembly polls just months later, the Congress did better. It took 30 of the 66 seats from the region. True, Sonia Gandhi’s visit had a huge impact in this traditionally pro-Congress cotton belt. Turning down prime ministership further enhanced the respect she enjoyed there. But the Congress campaign captured voters with a single promise. It would raise the cotton prices – then Rs.2200 a quintal – to Rs.2700. That promise was to be betrayed just months after the polls – with terrible consequences.

In Maharashtra, cotton never received the support that sugarcane did. It was grown in poor regions by dryland farmers with far less political clout than the Pawars of western Maharashtra. As India embraced neo-liberal globalism, that clout waned further. On the one hand, cotton-growers were locked into the volatility of global prices. On the other, input costs were exploding. Local seed cost around Rs.9 a kilogram in 1991. By 2004, commercial seed had taken over and could cost as much as Rs.1,650 to Rs.1,800 for just 450 grams, thanks to Monsanto’s Bt cotton. State intervention later brought the price down to half that. But the damage had been done. And even today’s price of Rs.650-850 for less than half a kg is still many times higher than Rs.9 a kg. In Maharashtra, the State actively promoted the costly Bt seed, its own agency being a distributor. Huge sums also went to promoting it by using film stars as “brand ambassadors.”

Other inputs, fertilizer, pesticide, utilities like water and electricity, all saw a big rise in costs from the mid to late 1990s. Cotton covers about 5 per cent of cultivable area in India, but accounts for 55 per cent of all pesticides used. (That is in itself a huge problem with alarming long-term consequences for agriculture, environment and health as a whole.) With the massive spread of these, it is no surprise that most farmers taking their lives swallowed chemical pesticides to do so. They are so easy to access, perhaps far more so in this sector.

In Maharashtra, cotton has never received the support sugarcane has. It is grown in poor regions by dryland farmers with far less political clout than the Pawars of western Maharashtra.

Successive Indian governments did nothing to stop the dumping of subsidised U.S. cotton in this country. There are no duties on import of cotton today. India is the second biggest producer of what is one of the world’s most widely traded commodities. Yet between 1997-98 and 2004-05, we imported 115 lakh bales. That is, over three times the number we did in the preceding 25 years. This cheap imported cotton further devastated growers here. At the same time, like millions of other small farmers, they found bank loans harder and harder to access as rural credit shrank – by policy. Credit was increasingly diverted towards urban-metro consumption. Many farmers turned to moneylenders, ending up mired in debt.

While poor cotton farmers never developed much political and electoral clout, traders and textile barons did. Even if the barons were to pay a slightly better price – say an additional Rs.2 per metre of raw material went to the farmer – it would make a difference. It never happened.

By 2005, cotton prices collapsed. That’s when the Maharashtra government withdrew the Rs.500 per quintal “advance bonus” normally tagged on to the minimum support price (MSP) in the State. This saw the price plunging to Rs.1,700 a quintal. (Gold was at Rs.6,180 for ten grams.) Suicides in Vidarbha, already rising, shot up massively.

By September 2006, farmers in that region were killing themselves at the rate of one every six hours on average. The Vilasrao Deshmukh government had withdrawn the advance bonus in 2005 despite appeals from cotton growers, the National Commission for Farmers and many others. The next year, Vidarbha, indeed all of Maharashtra, recorded its worst rise in farm suicides ever. If the Deshmukh government could get away with that, it was because cotton had no strong lobby. Its electoral clout was feeble.

Across India, cotton growers make up the largest group of the over 180,000 farmers who committed suicide between 1997 and 2007. The cumulative impact of all these processes was crushing farmers locked into this model of production and into neo-liberal economics. In Vidarbha, for the first time ever, farmers grew more soybean than cotton as losses on the latter were killing them, literally.

There’s nothing like an election to spur policy change, though. In the run-up year to the polls, the Union government came through with its Rs.71,000 crore loan waiver for indebted farmers. In Maharashtra, the lion’s share of that waiver’s benefits went to just seven of the State’s 35 districts, none of them in the poor cotton-growing regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada. Most of them within the power base of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. And all this was about bank debt. Moneylender debt was not touched. Still, there was some relief.

The main loan waiver excluded those owning more than five acres. This penalised some of the poorest farmers. In unirrigated regions, even poor farmers tend to own more acres as productivity is so low. The government did respond to demands that dryland cultivators not be penalised for having more than five acres. After all, polls were now months away. The write-off that followed of Rs.20,000 for such farmers did help a significant group of growers in Vidarbha. And there was also some money that trickled down from even the awfully flawed packages.

Then came a healthy rise in cotton prices. The shifting of huge swathes of land in the U.S. to bio-fuel production pushed up prices last year. And a nearly 50 per cent rise in the MSP for cotton took the price to Rs.3,000 per quintal. In Vidarbha, it meant that about seven months of 2008 were the best period the region had seen in years. No basic problem had been resolved, but it brought some relief and reduced the stifling pressure. A pity it took so many deaths – and election year – for that to happen.

The rise in MSP to Rs.3,000 was also an admission of how disastrous the Deshmukh government’s torpedoing the price to Rs.1700 a quintal had been. And the removal of that Chief Minister also won the region’s approval.

To what extent this helps the Congress in these Lok Sabha polls is hard to gauge. There is the BSP factor that is very real and could mess up all bets. (It played a big role in 2004, too. In four seats, the BSP polled far more votes than the margin of defeat of Congress-NCP candidates.) But the Congress faces less hostility than it did three years ago. Whether it can play that to its advantage is another question. And the long-term future of White Gold here is an even bigger one.

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P. Sainath is the 2007 winner of the Ramon Magsaysay award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts. He is one of the two recipients of the A.H. Boerma Award, 2001, granted for his contributions in changing the nature of the development debate on food, hunger and rural development in the Indian med

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State tops national graph in farmers’ suicides -1,520 In Vidarbh

Posted by Ramoo on December 31, 2008

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State tops national graph in farmers’ suicides -1,520 In Vidarbha
In 2007, 4,238 Ryots Ended Life In State, 1,520 In Vidarbha Yavatmal: The
Union home ministry’s website displays the data of farmers’ suicides in 2007
and a close look into the available version indicates that Maharashtra tops
the entire country with regard to the suicide of distressed farmers.
According to the website, 16,632 farmers ended their lives in 2007 and
Maharashtra had the highest figure of 4,238 of whom 1,520 are reported from
Vidarbha region alone.
As a matter of fact, the Central government has granted a huge sum of Rs
3,750 crore in the form of the Prime Minister’s Special Package and the
state government granted Rs 1,075 crore as Chief Minister’s package for the
rehabilitation of the distressed farmers of Vidarbha. Now the billion dollar
question is: Where had the fund from the special packages gone? And who is
still responsible for unabated suicide?
A leading farm activist Kishor Tiwari, speaking to TOI, said that on an
average 4,000 farmers committed suicide in last four years and 70% of these
suicides have been reported from Vidarbha region alone.
While ridiculing the tall claim of the state government about the fall in
suicides after the implementation of the special packages, the information
of suicide figure given by a government agency ―Vasantrao Naik Swawalamban
Mission ― shows an upward trend (in six worst-hit Vidarbha districts) in
2008 than in 2007 and the suicide figure from 2001 till December 10, 2008 is
The government has constituted eight inquiry commissions/committees since
2004 and the reports have also been submitted from time to time. According
to these reports, over 10 lakh farmers are distressed. Over one lakh
families are deprived of proper health care facilities while 3.60 lakh
families are facing the financial burden to meet the expenditure of their
daughters’ marriage. Over 80% farmers, who are denied of the bank loan being
defaulters, are forced to knock on the doors of the unscrupulous private
money lenders and their greedy touts for meeting their urgent financial
Tiwari urged the government to ensure “food, health and education security”
to poor farmers in the region so that they can lead a dignified life as
envisaged under the Constitution of India.
He demanded that the state should provide financial assistance to the poor
and needy farmers for their daughters’ marriage and also ensure them of the
facility for fresh crop loan at subsidised interest rate.
The Union home ministry’s website also shows an upward trend in the crime
rate across the country vis-a-vis farmers’ suicide in the state. The current
trend is that the suicide wave is speedily moving from western Vidarbha to
eastern Vidarbha districts which may take an alarming situation in the days
to come.
Tiwari further urged the chief minister Ashok Chavan to look into the matter
seriously and come out with an effective action plan to curb it during the
current winter session of the State Legislative Assembly in Nagpur.

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Institutionalised corruption in Vidharba-hostile to farmers: VJAS writes to Maharashtra CM

Posted by Ramoo on December 21, 2008

VJAS has been monitoring vidarbha farmers suicides and agrarian crisis since 1999 and we are glad that your Govt. and UPA govt. at the centre has first officially admitted that west vidarbha cotton famers are in pathetic condition and committing suicides and has declared timely relief packages in 2005 and 2006 but as on today if we look at the net result of these Rs.5000 crore relief packages it is crystal clear that all relief packages failed to stop on going farm suicides on vidarbha more over it failed to provide any help or healing touch to the 2 million distressed farmers of west vidarbha .please look at the graph which is true picture of result of relief packages.

Institutionalised corruption has made hostile condition of administration

The massive corruption in which minister are directly involved are mainly responsible for the failure for the failure of these relief packages, In the relief packages main chunk of money around Rs.2500 crore which is 70% of total relief package under AIBP has been released for but money was siphoned out and it failed to increase not even 2% land to be covered under irrigation .all other schemes of relief packages the money was has not reached to distressed farmers and touts and agents have been benefited along with minister concerned deptt.

With this letter I want to thorow light on the fact that entire Indiais quite aware with the gravity and the depth of the issue of continued grave plight of Farmers in light of unpresented & unfortunate situation arising out of hundreds of suicides committed by distressed farmers in the Cotton Cultivating Belt of Vidarbha Region of State of Maharashtra. The gross failure of the State Administration even to take the cognizance of the Survey Report prepared by the State Controlled Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawlamban Mission at Amravati Commissionerate in the month of May-June 2006, in which the information pertaining to farmers’ families in distress and with the extreme illness have not been attended by the State Administration even after 18 months from the Survey conducted in May-June, 2006.

The Government has formed a High Power Committee headed by Vice-Chancellor of Pune University, Dr. Narendra Jadhav to examine the shortcomings in the Farmers’ Packages under implementation and to suggest remedial measures to stop farmer suicides. At the time of visit of Dr. Jadhav to Vidarbha Region, the Farmers Organization – Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (VJAS) – which is following the issue since last almost 9 years on the basis of the ground study & analysis of each and every case of unfortunate suicides of the farmers in different villages of Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra State has submitted a detailed report to the Jadhav Committee.

In the context of the report submitted by Dr. Narendra Jadhav Committee, it is relevant to throw light on certain facts. At the time of visit of Dr. Narendra Jadhav to Nagpur, various Organisations submitted Memorandum to the said Committee, but the Memorandum submitted by VJAS through its President Shri Kishore Tiwari highlighted the detailed analysis the causes of the Farmers Suicides and after reviewing the success of implementation of the State Government Package & PMO Package for Farmers, the Committee admitted that the Packages have totally failed to provide any immediate help to those farmers’ families in the category of “Farmers Families in Extreme Distress” (total families 4,34,291) and “Farmers Families with extreme illness” (total families 92,456),though the complete data of which is available in the Report of the Survey conducted by Govt. of Maharashtra in June, 2006. It is required that it must act now, otherwise it will be too late to sort out the broken social structure in dying Rural Vidarbha.

VJAS pointed out that we all are very well aware that though the issue is complex and is the overall effect of various factors governing it, still we have few points to be highlighted for your immediate action in the interest of dying farmers, apart from the various long term measures suggested by various agencies including the High Power Committee appointed by Your Government under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Former Chairman of National Commission of Farmers & the Father of Green Revolution in the country.

VJAS highlighted these points on the very basis of the above referred document, which is the Survey Report dated 15th June, 2006 conducted by the Government of Maharashtra’s Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawlamban Mission at Amravati in connection with the Farmers’ plight and also reflected in the report submitted Dr. M.S. Swaminathan Committee.

It is evident from the Survey Document that the farmers ‘in extreme distress’ as mentioned in the column 9 of the Survey Chart are 4,34,291 and the farmers families suffering from serious illness are 92,456.

The detailed survey was conducted by the said Government Controlled Mission at Amravati under the guidance of Divisional Commissioner at Amravati, in the 8351 Villages of 6 Districts of Vidarbha comprising of Yavatmal, Amravati, Akola, Buldhana, Washim & Wardha in which 17,64,438 families were surveyed by the Mission.

On the basis of the in-depth study and analysis conducted by VJAS, out of such a huge numbers of families from those surveyed villages, VJAS had drawn the immediate attention of the Jadhav Committee towards the facts pertaining to the farmers in extreme distress and farmers with serious illness as stated above.


VJAS pointed out that in majority of cases of farmers suicides, we came to know that there is no food or medicine available to them and this plight has continued to result the extreme step of suicide by the said farmer and / or its family members.

Now, it is imperative on the part of the Union of India and State of Maharashtra that this known factors / points are to be attended to immediately so that these two class of farmers families i.e. the Farmers in Extreme Distress and Farmers Suffering from Serious Illness need to be attended immediately to remediate the plight of such farmers on the verge of committing suicides. It is regretted that the State Administration has miserably failed to attend these two known categories even though these required immediate relief measures to control the unfortunate incidents of suicides.




After visiting the families of the farmers which committed suicides, we came to know that there was no food even sufficient for 2 days in the houses of such farmers. These unfortunate facts of non-availability of Food or money to buy food grain and / or the medicine, resulted in the ultimate sad and unfortunate incident of suicide by the said farmers who were unable to face the agony and distress of such unfortunate plight of indirect hunger and ultimate starvation of the family members including small children and old parents.


The Union of India through State of Maharashtrais providing food grain at the subsidized rate to the BPL families amongst the farm / landless labours. In order to stop the indirect hunger and starvation of these 4,34,291 Identified ‘Families in Extreme Distress’, most of them are small farmers of which the economic condition is not above the landless labourers (Col No. 9 of the Survey Chart), State of Maharashtra to provide 25 Kg of Food grain per month at the subsidized price @ Rs. 3 – 5 per kg under the PDS and/or any other special scheme to be announced at least for a period of 18 months now onwards. This will immediately result in providing direct food help to the 4,34,291 Identified Families in Extreme Distress and the indirect starvation of such families can be stopped so that the ultimate effect which is leading to the unfortunate suicide of the farmer family can be stopped, once the hunger and the indirect starvation of such families is attended to.

JADHAV COMMITTEE has accepted the suggestion given by the VJAS and recommended to provide immediate Food Security to 4,34,291 Identified Families in Extreme Distress and order to formulate immediate scheme to provide 25 Kg of Food grain per month at the subsidized price @ Rs. 3 – 5 per kg under the PDS and/or any other special scheme to be announced at least for a period of 18 months i.e. upto December, 2009.




After visiting the families of the farmers which committed suicides, we also came to know that there was no medicine in the houses of such farmers where the family members are seriously ill or suffering from such diseases. The non-availability of medicine or money to buy food grain and / or the medicine, resulted in the ultimate sad and unfortunate incident of suicide by the said farmers who were unable to face the agony and distress of such unfortunate plight of indirect sufferings due to illness, hunger and ultimate starvation of the family members including small children and old parents.


The State is providing medical / health services to BPL families at the subsidized rate amongst the farm / landless labourers. In order to stop the indirect plight due to serious illness coupled with hunger and starvation of these 92,456 Identified Farmers Families with Serious Illness, most of them are small farmers of which the economic condition is not above the landless labourers (Col No. 8 of the Survey Chart), State of Maharashtra to provide Special BPL / Health Cards to such families so that they get the subsidized health care in Government run hospitals at par with the landless labourers or BPL families. This will immediately help in providing direct health care to the 92,456 Identified Families with Serious Illness and in Extreme Distress and which can help to stop the unfortunate suicide of the farmer families with serious illness.

JADHAV COMMITTEE has accepted the suggestion given by the VJAS and recommended to provide direct health care to the 92,456 Identified Families with Serious Illness and in Extreme Distress and which can help to stop the unfortunate suicide of the farmer families with serious illness



It has been observed that the financial Institutions mainly Nationalized Banks are not providing credit facilities to farmers as per their actual needs. The scale of finance is extremely discriminatory. In Western Maharashtra, farmers are getting upto Rs.2,00,000/- per Hectare Crop Credit, but in Vidarbha it is extremely poor, not even Rs.10,000/- per Hectare. It is mockery of Credit Policy and Govt. Control thereon. The banks are not carrying out the periodic review exercise for increasing the scale of finance. In some cases it is observed that though the farmers are eligible for increment in scale of finance, but it is not made available merely for the reason of the extra staff / manpower for the purpose of documentation and credit papers at bank is not provided by the Regional Offices of the Banks. For want of such bank documentation and paper works, the farmers are denied the fresh incremental loans / credit facilities even though they are eligible for enhanced credit facilities. This is indirectly causing great hardships to the farmers and they have been denied the enhanced scale of finance / credit facilities for the failure of banks to revise the documentation or papers. Thus, inadequate and poor availability of credit facilities to the farmers is the main reason of exploitation of the farmers community at the hands of private money lenders / sahukars, who all are charging exorbitant rate of interest for such short term crop loan / credit made available to farmers by such sahukars. This is ultimately resulting in the unfortunate incidents of farmers’ suicide across the Vidarbha Region.


All the Nationalized banks be strictly advised / ordered to review the scale of finance and accordingly have extra manpower / staff for documentation and / or the paper work for reviewing and revising the scale of finance / credit facilities to the farmers as per their eligibility. The Banks be advised / instructed / ordered to make suitable computer software for the purpose of assessment and documentation for providing the new scale of finance / credit facilities to the farmers, which is being denied due to manual / lengthy / time killing and labourious documentation system presently being implemented in the Banks and could not be effectively made operational for want of staff / manpower and infrastructure in the Rural Sector Branches of the Banks. The farmers who have been denied the new scale of finance be given additional finances / credit facilities by extending the last date for such short term of loan. The forms / formats for credit facilities to the farmers be revised in such way that the time consumed in lengthy documentation can be avoided at the time of the review / revision of the credit limits on account of enhancement in the scale of finance, to the advantage of farmers as well as banks. It is unfortunate that the banks have not done computerization alongwith other infrastructures / net working for the agricultural sector and as such the benefits arising out of the advantages of new generation techniques / networking is being denied to the farmers especially in the Rural Vidarbha.

JADHAV COMMITTEE has accepted the suggestion given by the VJAS and recommended that all the Nationalized banks be strictly advised / ordered to review the scale of finance and accordingly have extra manpower / staff for documentation and / or the paper work for reviewing and revising the scale of finance / credit facilities to the farmers as per their eligibility.


It has been observed that the rate of cotton has not been increased as compared to the cost of input. It is not viable to sell cotton below Rs.3,000/- per quintal but since the support price is much below, the cotton purchasing agencies are not giving any rise and the rates are maintained just to the level of Rs.2,100/- per quintal maximum even though the national / international market rates are much much above. The increment in the minimum support price to the level of Rs. 3,000/- per quintal alongwith monopoly guaranteed cotton purchase scheme is the effective need of the hour. The farmers need support of the price as well as guaranteed purchase scheme other wise market players will exploit them and the unfortunate incidents of farmers suicides will continue unending and our civilized country will face an awkward position in the world.


The minimum support price of the cotton be increased immediately to Rs. 3,000/- per quintal. State Controlled Cotton Procurement Centers be started immediately from the first day & date of arrival of cotton crop to avoid exploitation of the farmers at the hands of Private Players in the Cotton Trade.

It is relevant to place on record that Government of India has increased and enhanced the support price to wheat to make it Rs. 1000/- per quintal by giving 40% hike this year. The same rationale and equity principle may please be adopted for the Cotton Cultivating Farmers in the Vidarbha Region as a Special Case, in view of the unpresented crisis being faced by the farmers.

JADHAV COMMITTEE has accepted the suggestion given by the VJAS and recommended that The minimum support price of the cotton be increased immediately to Rs. 3,000/- per quintal. State Controlled Cotton Procurement Centers be started immediately from the first day & date of arrival of cotton crop to avoid exploitation of the farmers at the hands of Private Players in the Cotton Trade.


It has been observed that Bogus & duplicate seeds being sold to poor and illiterate farmers due to Non implementation by the Govt. of Maharashtra of the Seed Control Order, 1983 issued under Sec. 3 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to arrest and control the big wig seed trades and manufacturers. This massive corruption in sale of duplicate & bogus seeds has resulted in cheating of the farmer and increasing of debt due to improper farm yield because of poor and bogus quality of seeds being sold freely due to apathy of State Government. This has indirectly resulted the unfortunate suicide of the farmers who lost their crops due to poor quality of seeds being provided to them in lack of proper administrative control by the agriculture department quality & input of the seeds which otherwise could have been possible due to the stringent provisions contended in the SEED CONTROL ORDER, 1983 OF ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT, 1955 if implemented in its true spirit & meaning. This failure on a part of State of Maharashtra to control the quality & input of seeds is one of the prime cause for the overall cheating and exploitation of the poor and illiterate farmers residing in the villages.



JADHAV COMMITTEE has accepted the suggestion given by the VJAS and recommended that the State of Maharashtra be ordered by Union of India to implement the provisions of Seed Control Order 1983 and to instruct to issue delegation of power to its inspecting officer for control of quality & input seeds as required under sec. 12 of the Seed Control Order of Essential Commodities Act, 1955 which is the prime tool for the control of quality & input of seeds.


It has also been observed that the farmers are not being given proper advice and training by the Government of Maharashtra in Department of Agriculture since last several years. The costly and improper BT cotton seeds which are not suitable for dry land farming is being freely propagated and sold at a very high cost of Rs. 2000/- to Rs. 3600/- Per Kg of BT cotton seeds, cost of which is virtually killing the farmers due to high input cost and low yield.


There must be the blanket ban on BT cotton seeds in the dry land farming and rainfed areas. This has to be done immediately in order to save the farmers from undue exploitation and cheating. There must be ban on sale and mis leading advertisement of BT cotton seeds in the dry land areas of Maharashtra where such seeds are not useful for cultivation of cotton due to the high cost of input as compared to the yield. The so called upgrade technology is killing the farmers. So immediate steps may please be initiated by the Union of India in this regard to stop free trials and sales of GM and BT seeds to protect the farmer community at large.

JADHAV COMMITTEE has accepted the suggestion given by the VJAS and recommended that the good quality BT Seeds to be provided by the Government to stop the exploitation by the Multi-National Seeds Company.


A) The Interest Remission Scheme under Packages have not been implemented properly by the State Government. The benefit of concessional rate of interest and also of interest remission has not reached to the Thousands of Farmers. Only Banks have been benefited. In Restructuring of Loans, Banks are tactfully exploiting the Farmers. The higher rate of interest is charged & in no case the concessions have been passed on to the farmers. The amount of Rs. 800 Crores have been shown as spent for the interest remission, but it has benefited only to the sick co-operative Banks and Nationalised Banks to clear their NPA on account of crop loans defaults.

B) The amounts spent on Accelerated Irrigation Development Programme (AIDP) has benefited only to the contractors of Irrigation for clearing their old dues. The amount so far spent is shown as Rs. 780 Crores, but it has given benefits to contractors and even no long term irrigation benefit in sight for the farmers, because only routine old work is going on even after spending Rs. 780 Cr.. The officers are enjoying. Farmers are dying. Please review it by heart.

C) The Subsidy actually meant for farmers for developing Cold Chain and Cold Storage / Warehousing should be made available only to the farmers and the Farmers Group and not to the Corporates – Companies – Multinationals like Walmart, Trumart, Reliance, ITC, Subhiksha, Birla, Godrej, TATA, Hindustan Lever, DLF, etc. etc., otherwise the basic purpose of providing Food Processing subsidies / Infrastructure benefits to farmers for Value Addition will be defeated and if given to the Corporates, the basic advantage to the farmers will be taken away for want of proper statute to control such lapses.

D) The amount spent on subsidy on fertilizers be passed on to actual farmers / users instead of the fertilizer manufacturing corporates.

E) To promote use of bio-fertilisers, Union Ministry of Agriculture had set up Directorate of Bio-fertilisers having Regional Centers across the country to educate the farmers about use of Bio-Fertilizers. However, now this Directorate is changed to Directorate of Organic Farming and the whole thrust of the Regional Centres have now shifted to Organic Farming being propogated without proper Infrastucture & Market Support to the Organic Farming Sector. Union of India should separate out Organic & Bio-Fertiliser Wings to function independently. So that the basic purpose of Bio-Fertiliser and Organic Farming be protected in its true sense & meaning.

F) Farmers in the extreme distress categories may please be provided with free education facility to their wards.

G) Farmers in extreme illness categories should be provided with Special Health Card in order to facilitate them with the concessional medicine and health care. This will directly help to reduce the distress and depression level and save the farmers from committing suicides.

H) Special Schemes for promotion of Food Crop Farming and natural farming may please be introduced with the attractive schemes of subsidies for food crop farming and natural / low budget farming.

I) The farm sector insurance companies be advised / directed to settle the claims of farmers in stipulated time period of 30 days.

J) Contrary to the interest of the poor farmers, the Government is blindly promoting the Contract Farming which is being implemented with a help to corporate and multi nationals. The farmers interest is not protected at all. Proper legislation be enacted to regulate & control the contract farming to protect the interest of small farmers.

K) Food Processing Policy of Union Ministry of Food Processing be simplified in such a way that the illiterate farmers will get direct advantage out of it.

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Posted in Data, Farmers Suicides, Maharashtra, Vidharba Crisis | 1 Comment »

Maharashtra tops the list of farmers’ suicides

Posted by Ramoo on December 14, 2008

New Delhi (PTI): Fourty-six farmers commit suicide every day in this country even as packages were rolled out in a bid to bailout the debt-ridden community from crisis.

A whopping 16,632 cases of suicides by farmers, including 2,369 women were reported across the country last year with Maharashtra retaining the dubious distinction of having the largest number of such incidents despite a slump in figures.

Farmers’ suicide constituted 14.4 per cent of the total 1,22,637 suicides in the country in 2007, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) said in its latest report, Accidental Deaths and Suicide Report — 2007′.

In 2006, the figures were 17,060 and since 1997 there were 1,82,936 cases of farmers’ suicide in the country.

In a grim reminder of the appalling conditions of the farmers in this agriculture dominated country, the NCRB said besides Maharashtra, six other states have recorded over 1,000 cases of farmers’ suicides each in 2007.

Maharashtra, where the Central Government pitched in with a special package, reported 4,238 suicides last year, a decline of 215 from 2006, it said.

Karnataka (2,135), Andhra Pradesh (1,797), Chhattisgarh (1,593), Madhya Pradesh (1,263), Kerala (1,263) and West Bengal (1,102) followed Maharashtra in the list.

These states were in the top-seven list in 2006 too. While Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh showed a decline in the number of farmers’ suicide last year compared to 2006, such cases witnessed an increase in Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal.

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Posted in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, States, Vidharba Crisis | 1 Comment »

4,850 farmer suicides in last four years: VJAS

Posted by Ramoo on October 31, 2008

31 Oct 2008, 1749 hrs IST, PTI

NAGPUR: As many as 4,850 farmers have committed suicide during the four-year tenure of the Congress-NCP Democratic Front (DF) government in Maharashtra from 2004 to 2008, though the trend is on the decline, an NGO said today.
From 456 farmer suicides in 2004 to 660 in 2005 which grew to 1,886 in 2006, the number of suicides has gone down to 1,213 in 2007 and further dropped to 635 in 2008, Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti President Kishore Tiwari said in a release here.
Admitting that suicidal tendencies among farmers in the Vidarbha region was fast reducing, Tiwari said that mounting debts, crop failure and harassment from private money lenders had multiplied the problems of farmers in the region.
Meanwhile, three farmers committed suicide during Diwali. They were identified as Arvind Madhavrao Deshmukh (Lakhanwadi, Amravati), Narendra Gulabrao Panchre (Kohla, Nagpur) and Atul Shriram Kale (Kandhli, Wardha), the release said.

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Farmers’ suicide row: FIR registered against Sonia, Pawar

Posted by Ramoo on September 18, 2008

Zeenews Bureau

Akola, Sept 18: The issue of farmers’ suicide in Maharashtra has taken an ugly turn as a debt-ridden farmer from Akola has reportedly filed cases against 15 high profile persons including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar.
According to reports, the farmer, Dilip Ghatole, has held Sonia Gandhi and 15 others responsible for formulating such policies which led to the untimely and tragic death of his father Shaligram Ghatole.
Shaligram, a cotton farmer, ended his life in October 2007, as he could not repay his loans.
While moving a petition in the Akola district court, the petitioner said that the present UPA government was responsible for his father’s death.
Ghatole’s lawyer Prakash Ambedkar said that a large section of farmers were suffering due to the government’s import policy, which prevents them from getting a good price for their cotton.
Dilip and his mother Kaushalyabai are facing extreme hardship in meeting the day-to-day requirements of their family, as Shaligram Ghatole left behind a crushing debt of over Rs one lakh.
However, the opposition lawyer, who seems to be less worried over the petition, says that the government policy cannot be challenged in this court. It has to be raised in Parliament or in the Supreme Court.
The next hearing of the case is on September 26.

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23 farmers seek Prez permission to end lives

Posted by Ramoo on September 17, 2008

17 Sep 2008, 0230 hrs IST, Proshun Chakraborty,TNN

WANI: For the distressed farmers of Yavatmal in Maharashtra, the reasons driving them to suicide have been crop failure and crippling debts. There is another now: pollution by state-owned coal mines.
The spraying of coal dust on the fields by the hundreds of trucks rolling out of Coal India Ltd’s Western Coal Fields has severely hit farmers in the region.
Farmers say the coal dust from the open mines settle on the top soil and on crops jeopardising farming. As many as 23 farmers of Pinpalgaon, Junad and Brahmani in Wani, about 130km from Nagpur, have now written to President Pratibha Patil saying they want her “permission to end our lives”.
“The open mines of WCL in Wani shower heaps of ash on our farms. The flow of water too is restricted because of these heaps. There have been heavy crop losses,” says Balu Pundalik Khamankar, former sarpanch of Brahmani village and a farmer.
As many as seven farmers have killed themselves in Vidarbha region in the last month alone.

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Jadhav is running a rent-a-report service: Sainath

Posted by Ramoo on September 14, 2008

After PM’s advisor Naresh Jadhav attacked Magasaysay-winning journalist over his report on Vidarbha farmers, P Sainath retaliates with an equally vitriolic counter attack

Posted On Sunday, September 14, 2008

Deepak Lokhande

Picking up the gauntlet thrown by the PM’s economic advisor and Pune University vice-chancellor Naresh Jadhav, Magasaysay award-winning journalist P Sainath on Saturday tore into him for his claims that the farmers’ plight in Vidarbha is not as bad as it has been made out and said that the V-C was running a ‘rent-a-report’ service for the state government.
As head of the one-man committee appointed by the state government to study the benefits of the Prime Minister’s relief package for Vidarbha farmers, Jadhav had said in his report that Sainath was painting an alarmist picture of Vidarbha and had ‘defamed’ the state by doing so.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror from Norway, where he is attending an international conference, Sainath didn’t mince words, saying Jadhav’s report was just a ‘whitewash job for the state government’.
“How can criticising a state government mean criticism of the state,” said Sainath, the author of Everyone Loves A Good Drought who had described Maharashtra as a ‘graveyard for farmers’.
“He is running a rent-a-report service. His report is nothing but a whitewash job for the state government. He says Maharashtra is not the worst state, but only the fourth or fifth worst state in the country as far as farmers’ suicides are concerned. He is like a child who tells his father that he is not the last in the class, but fourth or fifth last,” said Sainath.
“Maharashtra is the only state where farmers are addressing their suicide notes to the CM and the PM. In Andhra, they wrote about policies, banks, moneylenders and others, but not the government. Here, they are telling the government we are killing ourselves because of you,” he said.
“In Maharashtra, we are putting our farmers in the pressure cooker and cooking them. And our CM says and I quote, ‘farmers should be grateful I am not prosecuting them as suicide is a crime’,” he added.
The veteran journalist added that contrary to Jadhav’s claims, the Maharashtra government had failed on every parameter, especially under Vilasrao Deshmukh’s leadership. Jadhav had claimed in his report that Sainath had used wrong parameters to

indict the state government.
“The National Crime Records Bureau statistics show that one-fifth of 1.66 lakh farmers’ suicides between 1997 and 2005 were in Maharashtra. Is this figure something to be proud of?” Sainath asked, adding that the farmers’ plight in Vidarbha was the worst in 2006, a year after the prime minister and the chief minister announced separate relief packages.
“The year witnessed the highest ever number of farmers committing suicides since we started keeping records. Of the 17,060 farmers who committed suicides in the country, 4,453 were from the state, which is almost one-fourth. These figures are never rivalled by any other state. The closest figure was in 2004 – around 4,100 ― and guess which state it was? Maharashtra, sadly,” he pointed out.
Countering Jadhav’s claims that Sainath chose wrong states (with less population to compare with Maharashtra), the journalist said even the population parameter didn’t save any grace for the state.
“The increase in the number of suicides (527) in 2006 was four-and-half-times that of Andhra Pradesh that recorded 117 more suicides than in 2005. Is Andhra four-and-half-times more populous than Maharashtra?” he asked.
“It’s amazing that after committee after committee found the situation in Vidarbha grave, Jadhav absolved the government. “The reports by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi Institute for of Developmental Studies, the Planning Commission, NABARD team, state investigators have been more adverse than the previous.
And whatever the parameters or ratings, 34,000 farmers committing suicides…is this something to be proud of?” he asked.
Pained that he was being painted as enemy of the state, Sainath said that if that was what he would get for telling the truth, then he wore it like a badge of honour.
Jadhav could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated attempts.

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Aid for farmers of Vidarbha milked by netas

Posted by Ramoo on September 13, 2008

13 Sep 2008, 0103 hrs IST,TNN

NAGPUR: In a bitter twist to the Vidarbha farmers’ tragedy, a simple RTI query has revealed a huge scam in cash and kind in the CM’s and PM’s special relief packages.
A six-time former MP and relatives of a sitting MLA and several former MLAs are among the ‘well-off’ people who have helped themselves to the relief measures meant for poor, bereaved families in Yavatmal district, the epicentre of the farmers’ suicides.
The revelations point to large-scale corruption and irregularities in implementation of the schemes. Social activist and journalist Vilas Wankhede, who made the RTI query, alleged that undeserving beneficiaries had abused the scheme in which 50% of the cost of purchase of a cow or a buffalo is subsidised by the government.
The scheme was meant to help the near and dear ones of those indebted farmers who were the sole breadwinners of their families and who had ended their lives, or other BPL families living along the state dairy’s milk procurement route. Its purpose was to enable the distressed families to supplement their income as farming had become uneconomical in this mainly unirrigated cotton-growing region.
After Wankhede applied under RTI Act, the deputy commissioner of Yavatmal’s animal husbandry department provided the list of beneficiaries. While former Congress MP Uttamrao Patil and his family members got ten cows under the subsidy scheme, sitting MLA of Digras Sanjay Deshmukh’s wife and mother got a cow each, ex-minister and former guardian minister of Nagpur district Shivajirao Moghe’s near relations got eight cows. Wani ex-MLA Wamanrao Kasawar’s four relatives got eight cows, while Congress leader Suresh Lonkar’s relatives bagged six.
More surprisingly, the contractor who supplied the cows, Amol Kshirsagar, was himself a beneficiary and got subsidy for two cows. All the leaders belong to the Congress, the NCP or other parties in the ruling alliance.

State BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who introduced Wankhede at a crowded press conference here on Friday, said the RTI data only related to one district. “This is the tip of a scam iceberg, since the packages were to be implemented in six suicide-affected districts of Vidarbha,” he said. Demanding a CBI probe into the relief packages, Gadkari also sought the PM’s intervention. “If the government fails to order a CBI enquiry, we will file a public interest litigation,” he added.
“What is disturbing in the whole affair is that needy and deserving people were left out and well-heeled politicians mainly from the Congress and the NCP misused the scheme,” said Gadkari.
More shockingly, Wankhede pointed out that despite distributing thousands of milch cows, each costing around Rs 14,000, the milk collection in the district actually showed a decline. The collection figure on June 1, 2006 was 6,521 litres, but on the last day of that month, it was 5,359 litres. The beneficiaries also took advantage of funds provided for fodder and many availed of insurance by claiming that the animal had died!
Gadkari said that the Narendra Jadhav committee report on implementation of relief schemes in Vidarbha had also mentioned widespread corruption and supply of relief material at inflated costs.

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Four Vidharbha farmers kill themselves on their biggest day of the year

Posted by Ramoo on September 1, 2008

Indo Asian News ServiceMon, Sep 1 12:30 PM

Nagpur, Sep 1 (IANS) Four debt-trapped Vidarbha farmers ended their lives last weekend on the day of Pola – the year’s biggest religious festival for farmers in Maharashtra, according to reports received here Monday.

The farmers were anguished by their inability to celebrate Pola in even a symbolic manner, said the reports, reviving sad memories of the Pola day two years ago, when two farmers had committed suicide.

The four suicides this weekend were reported from Soneri village of Amravati district, Muktapur of Nagpur district and Pendhri and Kona of Yavatmal district on the day farmers in the region worship their bullocks with great gusto and rejoice in the midst of the emerging kharif harvest.

Five more debt-trapped farmers in this region had killed themselves just a day before that, already casting a pall of gloom on the festival despite the central government’s unprecedented Rs.710 billion farm loan waiver.

While a tragic story hangs by each suicide, that of 32-year old Rajesh Wange of Soneri village is most striking. Owner of a seven-acres farm, three of them irrigated, Rajesh had taken a loan of Rs.51,000 from a credit cooperative society which he could not repay. He needed more money as everything had been spent on re-sowing and repeated farming operations necessitated by a 45-day-long dry spell. On top of it, his soyabean crop suffered severe damage due to an attack of spodoptera pest (army worm).

Rajesh drank poison at home Saturday afternoon while his family had joined the rest of the village right in front of his house, with their bedecked bullocks ready for the Pola show. Coming to know of the suicide, the villagers abandoned the festivities.

Villagers of Muktapur in Nagpur district also abandoned their Pola as one of them, Pramod Chowre, committed suicide even as the celebrations there were about to reach a crescendo.

Shamrao Kumre, 37, of Pendhri village and Vitthal Upre, 30, of Kona village in Yavatmal district were the two others to cut short their lives on the day of the farmers’ signature festival.

The five farmers who committed suicide a day earlier were Sanjay Gond of Ibrahimpur and Shamrao Waghmare of Sawargaon in Buldana district, Devidas Petkar and Tulsiram Nagose respectively of village Wadha and Chora in Chandrapur district and Narsinglu Rukmawar of village Mandvi in Yavatmal district.

The suicides of Gangaram Meshram and Anil Shende of Yavatmal district on Pola day in 2006 had stirred the conscience of the country.

That was the year that saw the maximum number of suicides in Vidarbha and elsewhere mocking the Rs.37.50 billion relief package of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. That year, cotton, the region’s main cash crop, fetched a record low price of Rs.1,700 per quintal.

In 2008, while a whopping Rs.170 billion loan waiver has been announced, only a small proportion has so far been disbursed as the cooperative banks are facing a cash crunch. The ongoing monsoon in the region has been punctured by two dry spells – one that lasted 45 days in June-July followed by another, which is still on, with a brief spell of rainfall in between.

The vagary has been compounded by an unprecedented attack of the spodoptera pest that damaged standing crops spread over at least 150,000 hectares.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti leader Kishor Tiwari told IANS he apprehended more suicides in the days to come as enough funds were not being provided for loan disbursal and the farmers hit by the army worm attack were not being bailed out quickly enough.

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