Monday, August 31, 2009

Five more vidarbha farm suicides in last 48 hours ridicule Govt. claim“farmer suicides come down significantly” - VIDARBHA TIMES blog reports

Five more vidarbha farm suicides in last 48 hours ridicule Govt. claim “farmer suicides come down significantly”

Nagpur- 1st September 2009,

When Indian Govt. was claiming that the number of farmer suicides in the country has come down significantly in the first half of 2009. Whereas 1,105 farmers committed suicide in 2008 because of agricultural factors such as crop failure, indebtedness and drought, the same number has come down to 203 in the first half of 2009 at same time five more farmers committed in last 48 hours taking toll to 55 in vidarbha in august alone.

The recent victims of continuous apathy and administrative negligence involved in prime minister farmers relief package of vidarbha farmers are facing complete crop failure due to drought are

1.Dilip Chavan in Yavatmal District
2.Onkar Unahale in Buldhana District
3.Ramdas Rathode in Washim District.
4.Babarao Daware in Wardha District.

5.Balkrishana Sonawane in Gondia District

‘The claims of Indian Govt. that agrarian crisis and prevailing distress has been fallen down is misleading as more than 286 districts have already been declared drought hit and most of crop in central and south Indian has already lost ,now after the admission of Indian prime minister and daily statements of Indian Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar that nation is under severe drought ,it is obvious that this will result in to crop failure, indebtedness pushing million of farmers in deep distress and allowing them to kill themselves such statements reflects insensitive attitude of Indian babus towards the agrarian crisis as they measure gravity of ground situation by doing comparison of farm suicide figure which also not in line with fact ,it’s matter of national shame’, kishore tiwari Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti informed in press note today.

‘If farm suicides are fallen down then why Govt. website on farm suicide of west vidarbha is not updated even after order of Mumbai High Court ,Nagpur Bench direction ’asked Tiwari .

Vidarbha is staring at the worst ever drought this year with an unprecedented short fall in monsoon rain , pest epidemic destroying standing crop and steep decline in ground water level as these four-month (June-September) monsoon is the main source of water for irrigation in the vidarbha as more than 90% farmers are dry land farmers involved in BT.cotton cultivation which recommended for the sowing in the assured irrigated land hence nature seems to have turning against Vidarbha this year as with half of the kharif season is over, the region has received less than 40% of the normal rainfall, the total yield is likely to effected by 50% ,Tiwari added.

“Total apathy of local Govt. and administration has beeen the main cause of recent despair along with on going massive corruption in relief package in by Indian prime minister to west vidarbha farmers as nobody is monitoring the progress in PMO even after Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh has promised to do so. The fuctioing of Maharshtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is too hostile to allow him to continue as CM for a day as Govt. has more than Rs.100 crore to give various schemes announced by the state in last ten days but same govt. has no moey to give food grain and health care even after the it’s own rented one committee of Dr.Narendra Jadhav ”kishor tiwari of VJAS added.

VJAS has urged UPA chief Smt. Sonia Gandhi to visit west vidarbha abd review the situation after the prime minister relief package and mega loan waiver as corruption in package and complete failure of bankers to provide fresh crop loan to farmers is adding fuel in existing despair gloom in already distressed farmers hence we want urgent relief from administration ,tiwari added.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Healing Touch - Government Style

Healing Touch - Government Style

Nagpur -29th August 2009

THE GOVERNMENT has pumped in Rs 10,000 crore in the suicide belts of Vidarbha over the last four years. Yet, farmers continue to kill themselves. Now, a performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has exposed the futility of the package..

A report titled Performance Audit of Farmers Package by the CAG of India, has concluded that the package has failed in its basic purpose, that of reducing the agrarian crisis in the six affected districts of Vidarbha. The districts are Yavatmal, Amravati, Wardha, Akola, Buldhana and Washim

"Though the state created the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawalamban Mission (VNSSM) for monitoring of the implementation of the packages, it had no dedicated staff even the post of its director general is mostly vacant. Consequently, it failed to even watch the expenditure incurred by the implementing departments under various components,’ ’ the report said.

But it’s very unfortunate to note that “healing touch to dying farmers families” has been made mockery by administration, here are details

1. Dated 1st July 2006

Having visited houses of farmer widows along with sharad pawar and then chief minister vilasrao deshmukh(both were visiting vidarbha first after farm suicide spiral started) Indian Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh spoke to media ,

"I have heard mothers crying to meet their children's education costs, fathers struggling to meet health expenses ,the farm widows need a healing touch by the administration hence I propose to place a sum of Rs 50 lakh at the disposal of each district collector to be used judiciously for alleviating the distress of such families, PMO would directly monitor progress of the schemes. I recognise there is a nationwide problem of agriculture indebtedness. We need to treat it as a national problem and address to it on a war-footing”

Till there is no follow up from PMO office and more than 90% relief money has siphoned out by politicians and officers as per recent enquiry committee report

2. Dated 19th December-2007

Maharashtra govt. issued G.R. that collector of concern district should visit the family were farmers has committed suicide and submit in-depth report. All collector delegated the power of visiting distressed and dying farmer’s to sub divisional officer then he delegated to takula tahsildar who issued instruction to village talathi to visit the family presently villiage kotwal is giving report of farmer suicide to police .

Here is news item published by local daily exposing healing touch of administration.

VJAS has termed that emotions from Indian prime minister to bottom of administration is fraud, farmers should revolt for elimination these hoax in the system to get justice


Corruption and drought threaten to wither the economy of India-Times(Landon)UK reports on Vidarbha crisis

Times Online Logo 222 x 25

August 28, 2009

Corruption and drought threaten to wither the economy of India

Dilip, a desperately poor farmer deep in debt, was only 25 years old. Two weeks ago, unable to see a way out of his predicament, he drank a bottle of Endosulfan, a pesticide so toxic that it is banned in Britain, though it is widely available in India.

“He committed suicide because the rains had not come,” Rekha, his wife, told The Times, sitting on her haunches in her tiny dilapidated shack.

The crops growing on their three-acre smallholding had shrivelled in the sun, giving Dilip no chance of repaying his debt of 18,000 rupees (£227).

Dilip left Rekha, 20, with two small children to provide for — and little else. The family is now among the worst-hit victims of a drought that has gripped India and threatens the economic security of millions.

“We are in God’s hands now,” she added, still seemingly in shock.

Signs of the monsoon’s failure are easy to find in Hiwara, the small village in the western state of Maharashtra where Rehka lives.

Five of the village’s six boreholes no longer produce water. In the surrounding area, farmers have started to sell cattle at knockdown prices — a classic indicator of agrarian distress.

The soya crop of Kisan Naitam, 65, another local farmer, has been attacked by military worm, a pest that he says has thrived in the dry conditions. It has left the plants frail skeletons, their leaves eaten away between their veins. “It’s all ruined,” he shrugs.

It’s not only the farmers who are feeling the pressure. Nilesh Narayan Develwar, 24, owns a small grocery store in the village.

He says his sales have plummeted as people forgo anything not absolutely necessary — luxuries such as soap, coconut oil to lacquer their hair and cold remedies.

“Those who would buy 1kg of lentils now buy a quarter of that amount,” Mr Develwar said. His takings have fallen to 1,000 rupees a day, down from 2,500 rupees previously. Such are the effects of India’s worst monsoon in years. In the past few days, there has been some rain in Hiwara but it has come too late for the summer crops of soya and sorghum. Cotton, the region’s most important cash crop, is hardier and will fare better, but yields will still fall sharply.

The story is the same across the country. The monsoon’s tropical downpours, which are supposed to last for four months from June, usually account for about 80 per cent of India’s annual rainfall.

But in June, the rains were 46 per cent below normal, the worst level since 1926, leaving rice nurseries parched. From June to mid-August, the rains were 30 per cent below normal, with some areas suffering a 60 per cent shortfall.

The shockwaves will be felt across the Indian economy. Agriculture may account for only 18 per cent of GDP, but 60 per cent of Indians — or more than 700 million people — depend on it for their livelihood.

The vast cushion of domestic demand provided by these poor rural consumers had been a key factor in allowing India to weather the global credit crunch largely unscathed.

The economy had been ticking over largely on increased purchases of basic goods such as toothpaste and pressure cookers – the kind of purchases that poor consumers make when they have a little extra disposable income.

If Mr Develwar’s story is typical, the failed rains have crushed demand for such items and economists will have to rethink their basic assumptions and downgrade their growth forecasts.

Citigroup says a weak monsoon could knock India’s GDP growth from an estimated 6.8 per cent this fiscal year to as low as 5.2 per cent. Analysts closer to the ground share the same downbeat assessment.

Shrikant Nandurkar, the manager of the State Bank of India (SBI) branch in the town of Pandharkawda, close to Rekha’s village, says he is “100 per cent worried”.

Of his 4,500 customers, 60 per cent are farmers — most of whom have borrowed to buy seeds, fertilisers and pesticides to grow crops that have withered in the fields.

He said: “There has been a little rain recently, but that will not help the crops now standing in the fields. At least 50 per cent of it is lost for good. People will not be able to pay back their loans.”

Amid the looming crisis, local government officials say that the state has things in hand and will provide financial assistance where necessary. Ministers in New Delhi note that stocks of foodgrains are ample and should counter against inflation.

But the drought has raised doubts over the effectiveness of a huge agricultural aid package revealed by the Indian Government last year. In the run-up to the general election it spent nearly 700 billion rupees on waiving loans for impoverished farmers.

The flagship policy was immensely popular and helped to win a second term for the incumbent Congress Party. However, it has done little, if anything, to help farmers to deal with this year’s failed monsoon.

According to Kishore Tiwari, a local activist, 42 farmers have committed suicide this month in the Vidarbha area of Maharashtra — the region where the tragic Dilip lived. He said that he believed that a key cause has been alleged corruption in the distribution of government subsidies.

“The apathy of the local government has been the main cause of the recent despair, along with ongoing massive corruption in the relief packages announced by the central Government,” he said. “Nobody is monitoring their progress.”


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Maharashtra farmers demand hike in cotton, soyabean MSP-Abhiram Ghadyalpatil, ET Bureau

Printed from

Maharashtra farmers demand hike in cotton, soyabean MSP

26 Aug 2009, 0117 hrs IST, Abhiram Ghadyalpatil, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: With less than two months to go for the Maharashtra assembly polls, the minimum support price (MSP) for cotton and soyabean has become a

sensitive issue for the farm lobbies and the Congress-NCP government in the state. Farmers have demanded an increase in the MSP for both the cash crops to offset the damage by drought.

But government officials and sources from the cotton industry are not hopeful of an upwards revision of the MSP even though the state faces an election. These sources feel that the MSP for the two crops in the 2008-09 season was higher than the open market price and an increase over the existing MSP would be an additional burden on the state finances when tackling drought has become the top priority.

“The MSP for cotton, soyabean, and other crops in 2008 was fixed higher than the open market price. In 2008-09, central government agencies like Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) and National Agriculture Federation (Nafed) have had to spend more than Rs 5,000-crore to purchase more than 80% of the total cotton produce in Maharashtra alone. It’s not advisable to revise the MSP upwards anymore,” said a senior Mantralaya bureaucrat who is associated with the pricing mechanism of agriculture produce.

In 2008-09, Nafed and CCI purchased 166 lakh quintals and 80 lakh quintals of cotton in Maharashtra at an average MSP of Rs 2800-2850 per quintal. Private traders purchased 35 lakh quintals.

Farm lobbies, however, have demanded an increase over the 2008-09 MSP to make up for the losses farmers would suffer on account of drought. Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti claimed that the state was set to witness almost 50% deficit in cotton, soyabean, jowar, and other grain yields this season.

“This calls for a serious intervention by the government in the form of a higher MSP so that the farmers are covered for the losses they incur,” Mr Tiwari said. The farm activist claimed that the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP), an agency under the Union agriculture ministry which fixes the MSP for agriculture produce, had actually recommended an increase in the price from Rs 3000 per quintal to Rs 3600 for cotton and from Rs 1560 per quintal to Rs 1860 for soyabean. “But the central government is not likely to accept this recommendation,” Mr Tiwari said.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

No change in “MSP for Cotton and Soyabean” is betrayal of 3 million vidarbha farmers -VJAS

No change in “MSP for Cotton and Soyabean” is betrayal of 3 million vidarbha farmers -VJAS

Nagpur- Dated-23rd august 2009,

No change in “MSP for Cotton and Soyabean” is betrayal of 3 million vidarbha farmers as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), which revised the MSP for kharif crops for the 2009-10 season on Thursday ,has rejected the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) regarding the increase in MSP hike cotton, soyabean, jowar and groundnut-in-shell and this will increase distress and despair prevailing in the region whixh under agrarian crisis and more than 6000 debt trapped distressed farmers have already killed themselves and recent dry spell has reported more farm suicides from vidarbha region.

As the complete vidarbha has been worst hit by drought and state has already declared most of talukas as drought prone ,it was expected that central Govt.will provide healing touch to more than 8 million farmers of Maharashtra who have lost most of standing crop of Cotton,Soyabean and Jawar by increasing MSP of Cotton Soyabean and Jawar as per recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), Kishor Tiwari Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti informed in press note today.

Vidarbha are shocked to learn that this for coming season central Govt. has taken decision that are there will be no increase in the minimum support price(MSP) for Jowar, Bajra, Maize, Ragi, Urad Dal, Groundnut-In-Shell, Soyabean, Sunflower Seed, Nigerseed and Cotton “ in fact in Maharashtra drought hit region Vidarbha ,Marathawada,Khandesh and North Maharashtra 90% crop is Cotton Soyabean and Jawar and yield is likely to come down to 50% due to drought and pest attack and cost of production due hike in input cost ,has been almost double and these facts were told to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) in detail and CACP recommended central Govt. to increase MSP of Cotton and Soyabean to Rs.3600 from Rs.3000 and Rs.1860 from Rs.1560 respectively but these recommendations have been rejected allowing drought hit distressed dying farmer to commit suicide, but Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has ignored this which is unfortunate decision hence we demand it’s review “ Kishor Tiwari urged Indian Prime Minister in letter.

“UPA Govt. before election has given promise that dying farmers will get reasonable MSP and UPA Govt. more sensitive to the hardships of dying farmers but after the election year, Central Govt. has changed it’s outlook toward the cash crop growing farmers who are playing key role in increasing so called agriculture growth ,are being completely ignored and specially Cotton and Soyabean farmers of vidarbha who are in focus due to on going farm suicides and drought and the decision to keep MSP of cotton and soybean unchanged even after the intervention of CACP is keep is not to interest of Cotton Million Owners and Soyabean Extraction Industries alive as there was big demand of cotton traders and textile mill owners to reduce the MSP of cotton but Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in his last meeting even after commerce minitry and special efforts of Cooperate cum cricket Minister Sharad Pawar , but Govt. failed to do so due to drought prone condition in the country but after Maharashtra assembly election in October such reduction in MSP of Cotton and Soybean is on card ” Tiwari said.

“UPA Govt. is urged to review MSP of Cotton and Soybean to Rs.3600 from Rs.3000 and Rs.1860 from Rs.1560 respectively in order to save dying 3 million farmers” Tiwari demanded.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When a week is a long time -P. Sainath on Vidarbha Drought Crisis

When a week is a long time

P. Sainath

Date:20/08/2009 URL:

Monsoon failure hits Vidharbha, certainly Yavatmal, at a critical time.


Lachchu Patel with some of the cattle he has bought up and provided shelter to in Yavatmal.

“My collections have fallen by over 50 per cent as compared to last year,” says a despondent Prashant Balki in Devdhari where we run into him patrolling the village on his motorbike. Young Balki is a collection agent for the Wani Urban Bank in Yavatmal district. His job is to collect small sums each day from villagers in Ralegaon taluka who join the daily savings scheme of the bank. (Some banks call these tiny deposits “pygmy” saving schemes.) People have been badly hit by the drought and crisis,” he says. “They find even small amounts hard to give.”

“Naturally,” says Gulshan Ghai, a small storekeeper who’s walking by. “The price rise has been hurting people badly for quite some time. Now they’re staring at crop failure.” Ghai is also a farmer owning seven acres.

In Jarur village of Ghattanji taluka, Moreshwar Waitale is discovering that when he shifted from cotton to soybean four seasons ago, he traded one volatility for another. “Three seasons, soybean did okay and I escaped the kind of losses I suffered on cotton. So this year I brought all my 15 acres under soybean. Now it’s failing totally.” Cotton, while costlier to cultivate, is also hardier in the kind of weather Vidharbha finds itself facing. “Soybean is likely to go under much faster,” say farmers here. It is also riddled with pest in some parts of the district. The consensus is that late rains will help with fodder but not too much with crop yields.

Monsoon failure hits Vidharbha, certainly Yavatmal, at a critical time. Some things had changed in this district. A vigorous agitation — which saw hundreds of farmers incessantly beating drums outside banks — and a more receptive administration — saw Yavatmal actually cross its crop loan targets for the first in years. “Against the target of Rs. 520 crores,” says District collector Sanjay Deshmukh, “we touched Rs. 560 crores.” This was impressive and Yavatmal was the only district to do so in Vidharbha. The irony, he says, is that a drought could see the recipients of those loans turn defaulters next year. This is a genuine fear. Indebtedness, always high in this region, is again on the rise. Vidharbha’s problems did not arise from a drought, but will worsen with it. The next week will be the longest. A tense wait for the rains.

That the pressure is already on is evident in the fall in Balki’s daily savings collections and the distress sale of cattle in the villages. “People are not even taking their cattle to sell them in the main markets,” says Kishor Tiwari. “Trucks headed for the abattoir are picking them up right at the villages.” His organisation, the Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti spearheaded the stir against the banks. “Mainly, those sold at the market under normal conditions would be for draught and milch purposes. Those sold in this situation are often headed for the slaughter house.”

The Collector believes 80 per cent of this season’s crop can “still be saved if there are good rains within the week.” He also believes that a lot can be done to secure a better rabi season. Like many here, he supports the idea of digging a pond on every farm. That too, could help enlarge “the area under rabi from around 10 per cent to perhaps 30 per cent of the total 9 lakh hectares under cultivation in kharif.” The union rural development ministry’s latest announcement now allows, in theory at least, such ponds to be created on private farms through the NREGs. Meanwhile the district has to contend with a sinking water table and several talukas where rainfall has been sparse to nil for three weeks.

In the midst of the chaos, impending and real, we run into one of Yavatmal’s truly curious characters. He’s called “Lachchu Patel” but his real name is Lakshman Rao Bollenwar. He is of Telugu origin but his people have been here for generations. Lachchu’s family are not vegetarians. He has a poor opinion of the VHP and particularly of its gaushalas or cow shelters. “These people are not farmers,” he scoffs “and they know little about looking after cattle.” He on the other hand, is a skilled big farmer who does know cattle. “Cows are central to farming life,” he says and he does not mean that in religious terms. “I love cows.” So much so that he buys up cows bound for slaughter and cares for them. He presently shelters over a hundred such animals — apart from other livestock.

Lachchu became famous by intercepting cows due for slaughter on the roads, in the villages, “even at the butcher’s.” Not with violence or threats, but as a buyer. And the truck drivers carting cows to the abattoirs know a good touch when they see one. They stop at his house en route. “Knowing,” says one of his friends, “that they will get a much better rate from Lachchu than from the slaughter house. Earlier, he chased the trucks, now they come uninvited to his place.” But how on earth does he afford feeding them, big farmer though he might be? That’s where his skills and acumen come in. “About a dozen of these animals aren’t so bad,” says Lachchu. From these, after restoring them to health, he gets 40 litres of milk or more daily, which he can sell and make up to Rs. 800 a day on average. Or well over Rs. 20,000 a month. That still isn’t enough to care for such a large herd on the scale that Lachchu does. So he puts in the rest himself.

However, we press him, you cannot endlessly acquire new head of cattle, that too in bad shape? “Each year, I give away about 30 to 40 when I’ve got them healthy,” he says. “And since that’s about how many I pick up each year, the number remains roughly constant. All I ask is that the poor or needy family I give them to promises to keep the cow and not ever send it to the abattoir. It adds to their income and security. Farmers need cows. Cows need farmers.”

On the highways, though, are still vans headed for abattoirs. Evidence of farms in distress, losing the cows they need.

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

Drought management for rural livelihood security-M.S. Swaminathan

Date:17/08/2009 URL:


Opinion - Leader Page Articles

Drought management for rural livelihood security

M.S. Swaminathan

Agriculture is not just a food producing machine but the backbone of the livelihood of 60 per cent of Indians. The extensive drought spotlights a situation of mass rural deprivation and a mindset that is insensitive to it. But there are some encouraging signs. What should be done to meet the challenge?

There are reports in financial newspapers that the ongoing drought affecting nearly 200 districts in the country may not have much effect on GDP, since the farmers in the drought-affected areas contribute hardly 3 per cent to GDP. It is sad that such a measure of the impact of drought on the lives and livelihoods of millions of rural families is even considered. It is this mindset that is responsible for our country being the home of the largest number of poor and malnourished people in the world. P. Sainath’s article in The Hindu of August 15 brings out clearly the growing insensitivity to human suffering in our country.

No wonder we are finding it difficult to achieve the first among the U.N. Millennium Development Goals – reducing hunger and poverty by half by 2015. Unless we realise that agriculture in India is not just a food-producing machine, but is the backbone of the livelihood of over 60 per cent of our population, rural deprivation and suffering will not only continue to persist, but will get worse, leading to severe social unrest.

Fortunately, there are some encouraging developments which offer hope that drought management will be based on human values.

First, our President in her address on the eve of the Independence Day urged the need for refraining from making profit out of poor peoples’ entitlements. This is a timely warning since thousands of crores of rupees will be spent during the coming weeks in drought relief. Unfortunately, disaster relief funds become an easy target for those to whom corruption is a way of life and hence it would be useful to provide copies of P. Sainath’s book, Everybody Loves a Good Drought (1996, Penguin), to all involved in taking the benefits of the drought relief programmes to rural families.

Secondly, the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech has rightly emphasised the need to help farmers in their hour of distress, so that they can help the country to produce as much food as possible under the prevailing meteorological conditions. He has announced that the repayment of loans taken from banks will be rescheduled. In this connection, it will be useful to find a long-term solution to the problems faced by farmers in rain-fed areas by adopting the recommendation of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) that the repayment period for loans in drought-prone areas should be four to five years. This is particularly important, since we do not have an effective crop insurance policy for farmers in drought-prone areas.

Thirdly, the Prime Minister has constituted a Crisis Management Committee under the leadership of Pranab Mukherjee, with membership includes the veteran leader Sharad Pawar. Mr. Mukherjee fortunately belongs to the rare group of leaders who are firmly rooted in the “we shall overcome” philosophy. I hope the Crisis Management Committee will not only look into the immediate problems and short-term solutions, but will also develop a medium- and long-term plan that can enable us to face the challenges of drought, flood, high temperature, and sea level rise, which in future will be the recurrent consequences of global warming and climate change. I wrote an article in The Hindu of July 13, 2009 on “Monsoon management in an era of climate change.” Since serious action involving a large financial outlay is now under discussion, I would like to lay out a road map on the action needed immediately and during the remaining period of the 11th Five Year Plan.

Immediate Action

With the help of State governments, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and agricultural universities, the situation in each State may be classified into the following two categories.

1. Most Seriously Affected Areas (MSA):

These are areas where the monsoon irregularity has multiple adverse effects on crops, farm animals and human food, and livelihood security. Also, hydropower generation is affected, leading to energy shortage. The power shortage, in turn, makes it difficult to give a crop life-saving irrigation, wherever opportunities for this exist.

Apart from the relief operations normally undertaken, the urgent needs of MSA areas are: saving farm animals from distress sale through Farm Animal Camps near a water source or near a groundwater sanctuary (that is, a concealed aquifer which can be exploited during the emergency) and where animals can be fed with agricultural residues enriched with urea and molasses. Distress sale of farm animals is a clear index of extreme despair.

A “Beyond the Drought Programme” should be organised. This should involve short duration crops like saathi maize (60 days maize), sweet potato, pulses, oilseeds, fodder crops, and other less water-requiring but high-value crops, according to scientifically prepared contingency plans.

Another urgent need is the launch of “A Pond in Every Farm” movement. This can be done by permitting NREGA workers to build Jat Kunds in the farms of small and marginal farmers (see also Sainath, The Hindu, 15 August 2009). The revised NREGA guidelines permit this. At least five cents in every acre should be reserved for the construction of ponds to store rainwater. Where there is adequate ground water in MSA areas, subsidised electricity and diesel should be made available on a priority basis. Energy is the key limiting factor in taking advantage of ground water.

2. Most Favourable Areas (MFA)

In every agro-ecological zone, the Most Favourable Areas (MFA) can be identified where there is enough moisture for a good crop. A compensatory production programme can be launched in such MFA farms by taking steps to increase the productivity of the crops already sown. This can be achieved by undertaking top-dressing with urea or other needed fertilizers, including micro-nutrients, with government support. Wherever there are opportunities for launching such compensatory production programmes because of adequate rainfall, the faculty and scholars of the agricultural university in the area can be requested to move from class rooms to farmers’ fields to help ensure the proper administration of the nutrient top–dressing programme. This will help to increase crop productivity significantly.

Preparing for the Rabi season:

Where two or more crops are taken normally, it is time to begin preparation for a good rabi crop by assembling the seeds, soil nutrients, and other agronomic inputs needed for timely sowing and good plant population. Late sowing of kharif crops should not be encouraged, since every week’s delay in the sowing of wheat reduces the yield by over fourquintals per hectare.

Action during 2009-10:

During the next few months, detailed drought, flood, and good weather codes should be prepared for every agro-climatic zone in the country. These codes should indicate the pro-active measures such as building Seed Banks of alternative crops needed for minimising the adverse impact of rainfall abnormalities. The Good Weather Code should provide guidelines for maximising the benefits of good soil moisture. Another step urgently needed is the identification and training of two members of every panchayat – one woman, one man – as Climate Risk Managers. It is best that they are identified by the Gram Sabha.

The Climate Risk Managers can be trained in the science and art of managing uncertain rainfall patterns leading to drought or flood. They could also operate a Weather Information for All programme based on village level agro-met. stations. A mini agro-met. station can be built in every block with basic instruments to measure temperature, rainfall, wind speed, and relative humidity. The Climate Risk Managers can be trained in data collection and interpretation, so that the right decisions are taken at the right time and place. Such a technological upgrading of agricultural infrastructure will also help to attract youth in farming.

Medium Term Action

This could include the following:

(a) Build a national grid of ultra-modern grain storage structures all over the country. To start with, at least 50 such storage facilities each capable of holding one million tonnes of food grains can be constructed, thereby making it clear that government intends to remain at the commanding heights of our food security system.

(b) Promote through Gram Sabhas community food and water security systems. This should involve establishing at the village level seed, grain, and water banks. Seed banks will help to introduce alternative cropping strategies and contingency plans to suit different rainfall patterns.

(c) Enlarge the food security basket by including a wide range of millets and grains like ragi in the public distribution system (PDS).

Lessons from the Past

In 1966, the country faced a serious drought. A serious famine was avoided, particularly in Bihar, though concessional wheat imports of the order of 10 million tonnes under the U.S. PL-480 programme. This served as a wake-up call and several steps were taken under the far-sighted political leadership of C. Subramaniam, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and Indira Gandhi, which led to a wheat revolution in 1968. The major ingredients of this revolution were: technology; services that can take technology to the fields of small and marginal farmers; public policies, particularly relating to input and output pricing; assured and remunerative marketing; and above all, farmers’ enthusiasm as a result of national demonstrations in small farmers’ fields.

Today, the last component of the green revolution symphony is sadly lacking: over 40 per cent of the farmers interviewed by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) said they wanted to quit farming, if there was another option. No further time should be lost in implementing the commitments made under the National Policy for Farmers presented in Parliament in November 2007 — if the desire of the Prime Minister that there should be another green revolution is to materialise.

(Professor M.S. Swaminathan, eminent agricultural scientist and food policy expert, is chairman of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and a Member of the Rajya Sabha.)

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Till the cows no longer come home-P. Sainath on Vidarbha Drought

Date:19/08/2009 URL:


Opinion - News Analysis

Till the cows no longer come home

P. Sainath

The distress sale of cattle is one of the most sensitive indicators of crisis in the countryside.

— Photo: Special Arrangement

Some small farmers hanging around in Panderkauda, trying to dispose of their cattle at a reasonable price they will not get.

“Truckloads of cattle have left this village,” says Maruti Yadavrao Panghate in Devdhari village of Yavatmal. “Many more will go. There is no fodder or water for them.” Panghate, who owns five acres, feels he has lost “80 per cent of my soybean, 70 per cent of cotton and 50 per cent of all the jowar I’ve sown. Late rains even at this point will retrieve something, though not much. However, it could help with fodder and some water. Without that, the rest of the cattle will go, too. Already bullocks worth Rs.10,000 are selling at Rs. 4,000. It’s the same in other villages.”

The distress sale of cattle is one of the most sensitive indicators of crisis in the countryside. And when prices fall the way they have here, it suggests the onset of unusual levels of hardship. Vidharbha may not be yet as severely hit by the drought as parts of Marathwada or neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. But its situation is fragile. Its farmers have been battered by years of an agrarian crisis that had little to do with drought. Coming atop that crisis, monsoon failure hits a people far more vulnerable than they were in other decades.

There is still a six to eight day loop, as Panghate says, in which late rains can save something. “It’s been 20 days since the last showers,” says Yavatmal’s worried but energetic Collector Sanjay Deshmukh. “As things are now, we stand to lose about a fifth of the crop. If they stay this way and there are no further rains, we could lose up to 50 per cent of the crop.” (Others fear higher losses.) Deshmukh is hopeful that late rains could keep that down to just a fifth. And he has opened fodder depots, released dam water strictly for drinking water purposes and activated new NREGs works. It’s a race against time.

The cattle sales continue, though. “If the drought gets worse, people won’t keep any cattle at all,” warns Hafizuddin Kabiruddin, one of the 15-odd agents or dalals at the cattle market in Panderkauda. “I have not seen this kind of situation and I’ve been 25 years in the trade. And mind you most of the sales are taking place directly at the village rather than at our cattle market. The trucks just pick them from the villages and move across the Andhra border to Adilabad.” There, they go to the abattoirs.

Hafizuddin explains why prices have fallen most on premium breeds. “The top breeds consume far more fodder than the others. Hence Jerseys worth Rs. 15,000 are going for around Rs. 8,000. High priced bullock jodis (pairs) which would have fetched Rs. 50,000 or more last year won’t get you Rs. 30,000 now. You will also find that far more buffaloes are sold off than cows as they consume much more fodder than the latter. All varieties have fallen, but the nondescript ones had a low price anyway. So maybe those drop by Rs.2,000 or so.” That’s a lot of money for a poor family losing its milch animal.

At the end of two hours of explaining the trade and its present situation to us, Hafizuddin reveals that he too has been hit. “I’ve had to sell nine head of cattle in the past month.” Quite a few of those from premium breeds. He has lost around Rs.35,000 on those. He did not want to sell them, but “where is the fodder?”

“Water, too, is a huge problem,” says Amol Srirami whose family owns a well-known lassi shop in Panderkauda town. He and his brother Prashant have sold three of their five buffaloes in just the past eight days. “We lost a packet on that,” he says ruefully. “The lassi season is really for three months from about March to May. But you’ve got to feed and care for the animals all 12 months. Less fodder translates into less milk, so there’s no earning there either. I think each house in our Tadumri village has sold one or two head of cattle.” And so the Prashant Ras Vihar and Lassi Centre stays closed “for the season.”

Water, as Srirami says, is a huge problem for livestock as well. But typically, as one district official points out, “governments in a time of crisis tend to focus only on drinking water for human beings.” In a country with close to 600 million farm animals, that’s a problem. “Farm animals are not taken into account at the time of planning.”

“You can see that the cattle and goats are having to drink any water they can, a lot of it quite toxic, from contaminated sources,” says Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti leader Kishor Tiwari. His organisation has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of farmers in this region. “If the rains do not show in the next week,” he says, “we are in serious trouble on every front. Crop, water and fodder.” Water, confirm those selling off their cattle, is as much a problem as fodder. Oddly enough, lower level officials in some talukas deny there is a fodder crisis. They say all applications for fodder “have been disposed off.” This contrasted sharply with claims amongst villagers that they were unable to get any. “Perhaps people have long ago given up seeking things from the administration,” jokes Tiwari. But Collector Deshmukh is taking no chances on this front and opening fodder centres anyway.

There is also the problem that over years, as in much of the country, the district’s agriculture extension machinery is crippled. At some levels non-existent. “One-third of extension officers posts are lying vacant,” says an official. “Then there are so many vacancies in clerical posts as well. So many of those meant to do extension work are pressed into clerical duties. That means even fewer people in the field.”

In a region already beset with problems, the soybean crop being hit by pest, the jowar (that could provide fodder) in danger and water getting scarcer, the next eight days will be crucial.

© Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vidarbha suicides may spiral out of hand-Mail Today

Vidarbha suicides may spiral out of hand

Krishna Kumar

Mumbai, August 17, 2009

Maharashtra, home to the country's richest industrialists, where endless films are made depicting all that is bright and beautiful about India, has a soft underbelly. It is also the state where Vidarbha, the country's suicide capital, is located.

Some 1,200-1,500 farmers commit suicide in Maharashtra every year, and the loss of a few lives hardly makes the news. But this drought, the number is feared to double--particularly in Vidarbha.

The month of August has just gone past the half-way mark and 24 farmers have already taken their lives. The monthly average is 25-30, but June saw at least 44 farmers committing suicide.

"Not just tigers but even farmers would become extinct in Maharashtra if the current spate of suicides continues for the next few years," says Kishore Tiwari, who heads the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, an organisation that has taken up the cudgels on behalf of the hapless farmers.

In 2006, a total of 1,486 farmers committed suicide. The next year it was 1,248. Last year, despite the rainfall being normal and the Union government announcing a massive loan waiver, it was no less than 1,258.

Tiwari fears the situation could be catastrophic this year-when the rainfall has been scanty at best-and more than double the usual number of farmers could end their lives. All that he and other activists are asking for is that the government implement the recommendations of a oneman panel it had set up.

The Narendra Jadhav Committee was appointed by the Vilasrao Deshmukh government to look into farmers' suicides in 2008. "The government must put its suggestions into practice. The panel clearly laid out policies on how the state should assist farmers by offering cheaper healthcare and implementing schemes like Antoyodaya Yojana and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act," says Tiwari.

Officials have identified 158 taluks out of 355 in the state as water scarcity areas, which have less than 50 per cent of the required water supply. The state government has instructed district collectors in these areas to defer the recovery of farming loans for now.

A 33 per cent discount on power bills has also been announced. Students in these taluks who will appear for senior and higher secondary certificate board examinations won't have to pay their fees this year.

But Tiwari says this is far from adequate.

"Maharashtra is sitting on a volcano. More and more farmers are falling into a debt trap due to the drought," he says. "The state government is clearly not thinking about how to reduce these deaths for good. That is why it is going for stop-gap measures instead of tackling the real problem."

Courtesy: Mail Today

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rs.110 crore Bailout Package to DCCBank Nanded is misuse power and Public Money-VJAS demands sacking of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan

Rs.110 crore Bailout Package to DCCB(coop- Bank) Nanded is misuse power and Public Money-VJAS demands sacking of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan

1.RBI appointed liquidator on DCC Bank Nanded after Rs.770 crore scam by old Directors include Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and his close relative and NCP leader Ex-Central Minister Suryakanta Patil

2.As per Govt. G.R. No.DCB-1206/556/2-S Dated 10th august 2009 Maharashtra Govt. Gifted Rs.110 crore chief minister ashok chavan’s DCC Bank Nanded (copy enclosed).

3.As per Govt. G.R. No.DCB-1206/16/2-S Dated 26th march 2007 Maharashtra Govt. Gifted Rs.20 crore DCC Bank Nanded

4.As per Govt. G.R. No.DCB-1206/5666/2-S Dated 14th march 2008 Maharashtra Govt. gifted Rs.1000 crore as short term loan to DCC Bank Nanded

Nagpur-17th august 2009

When maharashtra govt. has no money to give food grain loan (Khawati Karz)to 3 million tribal even after order of High Court ,chief secretary is not ready to give subsidies food to one million distressed and dying vidarbha farmers even after recommendation of Dr.Narendra Jadhav Committee report and as per Economic Survey of 2009 Govt admits that

“2 million jobs are lost, food grain production dropped by 25%,outstanding debt mounting to Rs.1,58,520 crore ,interest payment on debt is Rs. 12,953 crore,30% drop in employment provided under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), poverty ratio in the State is 30.7 per cent as against All-India average of 27.5 percent and more than 6000 farm suicides and lacs of tribal death due to malnutrition and starvation

but same government has released Rs.110 crore as financial aid to RBI liquated District Central Cooperative Bank i.e. DCC Bank Nanded home district of Maharashtra chief minister Ashok chavan in which chief minister , close relatives and NCP leader ex-central minister Surshkanta Patil defaulted more than Rs.770 crore and RBI has appointed district collector as it’s liquidator and imposed all restrictions under banking regulation act-1949 section 37 and all misdeed and corruption of the DCCB Nanded is under investigation .

“This is gross misuse of power and attempt save from criminal prosecution of all directors involved in massive Rs.770 crore scam in which top leaders of congress and NCP are named which include ashok chavan brother in-law Bhaskararo Khatgaokar M.P. and Ex-Central Minister Surykanta Patil . We are demanding sacking of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and moving the petition before Maharashtra Governor S.C.Jamir and Lokayukta for his urgent removal” Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti informed in press release today.

“As election are due in October 2009 and such illegal decision and gross misuse of power is rampant as daily such G.R.s are being released by this maharashtra Govt. sanctioning thousands of crores with out legitimate locus and allowing the gross violation of R.B.I. and central finance ministry earlier restriction due to over running debt on the state and present DCCB Nanded G.R. is piece of iceberg Tiwari added.

DCC Nanded was given Rs.20 crore in March 2007 and then Rs.100 crore short-term loans to be refunded in three years now that short loan ahs been converted in financial aid with retrospective effect and this has been done by the very smart babus in co-operative deptt. now headed Dr.Sudhir Goyal , “we will take all babus to task for these financial misdeed as these acts will not only revive the corrupt board of directors without any penal action but R.B.I. will be forced to lift all restriction under bank regulation act 1949 section and will give liberty under section 62-E of maharashtra co-op. societies act-1960.”Tiwari said.

“This is purely waste of tax payer money to save corrupt directors of DCCB nanded as they are close to Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar “the above act of misusing the power of chief minister is violation of constitutional duties of chief minister and illegal and if Maharashtra Governor S.C.Jamir and Lokayukta failed to give the urgent relief then we will move the writ in Mumbai high court as matter of public interest litigation”Tiwati informed.