Nagpur, Nov 10: BT cotton seed companies should pay Rs 4,000 crore to farmers in Vidarbha as compensation for the failure of the crop taken with that variety, farmers activists demanded here today.
Speaking to reporters this evening, Kishore Tiwari, Convenor of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a voluntary organisation working among farmers in the region, said the government should recover the amount from the seed companies and disburse it to farmers.
''The government can do this easily. All companies have been issued licences under the law. If the companies don't pay up, the government can warn them of cancelling the licences,'' he said.
If the government failed to recover the amount, VJAS would move the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) for redress, Mr Tiwari said. ''We will go to the commission with all documentation. If we fail to get justice there, we will even move the court,'' he said.
Mr Tiwari said the companies selling BT cotton seeds had made big promises to farmers about the yield of the variety. ''They promised that BT would give upto 25 quintals per acre. However, farmers could get barely 3 quintals per acre because of the low rainfall this year,'' the VJAS convenor said. The variety was promoted in Vidarbha despite the fact that the region is primarily rainfed with little irrigation, while BT needs a lot of water, he said.
''At a support price of Rs 3,000 per quintal, and considering the fact that BT cotton was sown over 34 lakh hectares in 2009, the quantum of damage is obvious,'' he said.
The damage caused by the variety could be gauged from the fact that the outlay for relief packages for farmers announced by the government had increased with an increase in the area under BT, Mr Tiwari said. ''The area under BT cotton was 8 lakh hectares in 2005, and the relief package was Rs 1075 crore. The area was 12 lakh hectares in 2006, and the central government's package was Rs 3750 crore. There was no package in 2007, when the area was 18 lakh hectares. However, in 2008, the Centre announced a loan waiver of Rs 71,000 crore when the area under BT was 24 lakh hectares, and the state government announced its own waiver of Rs 6,208 crore in 2009, when the area is 34 lakh hectares'', he contended.
VJAS would hold farmers conventions at Pandharkawda in Yavatmal district in Vidarbha on November 12, and at Kinwat in Nanded district in Marathwada on November 13 to prepare for moving the MRTPC for compensation, he added.