NAGPUR: Contrary to initial estimates of a bumper crop of 350 lakh quintals, cotton is expected to take a big hit because of scanty and irregular monsoon this year. For Vidarbha farmers, yet to come out of the distress situation despite relief packages and loan waivers, this would mean a fresh crisis as both the main kharif cash crops of cotton and soyabean have failed this year. Crop losses in cotton could go up to 60%.
"We were expecting a very good cotton crop because the area under crop cultivation had registered a big jump to around 34 lakh hectares in the cotton belt of Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh," admitted state cotton growers cooperatives federation chairman N P Hirani. Many farmers had shifted from soyabean to cotton for two reasons - the better support price of around Rs 3,000 a quintal announced last year by the government and losses in soyabean because of infestation.
Normally cotton is grown in around 22 lakh hectares in the state which has the country's biggest cotton growing area even though in terms of yields it lags behind Gujarat and Punjab. While the federation and the state was expecting a yield of 350 lakh quintals as almost all farmers have now taken to Bt cotton, revised estimates indicate that it may barely cross 200 lakh quintals. Fears of poor arrival already have fuelled open market prices and it may touch a new record of over Rs 3500 a quintal this year.
"Bad days are ahead for cotton growers," agreed Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti's Kishore Tiwari. His worst fear is that the suicide rate, which was falling in the last couple of years, may raise its ugly head again. "In districts where farm credit was disbursed liberally, farmers may default and recovery will be very difficult for the banks," said Tiwari. However, he also talked of private traders paying a high price Rs 3150 at Wani.
"That means, farmers will prefer to sell to private traders for a better price. The federation cannot pay over and above Rs 2850 for the average grade and Rs 3000 for the best quality. Last year we could purchase over 160 lakh quintals on behalf of NAFED because we paid more than the private traders. But this year we may not get a similar response," said Hirani.
The federation is launching its purchase season on November 5. " After the formal inauguration at Wardha that day, we will open purchase centres only at district places. If arrivals improve we will start purchasing at taluka level and eventually, if required, increase to around 100 collection centres," said Hirani. "We have the mandate to protect farmers' interest at the minimum support price. But we can't prevent them from selling elsewhere for a better price." ========================================
VIDARBHA JANANDOLAN SAMITI PRESIDENT – KISHORE TIWARI, B.E. (Mech.Engg.), M.B.A., LL.B., M.A. (Pub. & Admn.), M.A. Sociology, M.I.S. (USA), Fellow - I.E.H., Fellow – Institution of Engineers (India)- CHARTERED ENGINEER BACKGROUND : Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti is fighting for the cause of common man since 1998. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti is constantly pursuing its battle on various fronts like – a.Administrative b.Judicial c.Quasi-judicial d.Legislative e.Parliamentary f.International levels PUBLIC ISSUES : 1.Farmers suicides 2.Mal nutrition of Tribals. 3.Plights of Rural economy 4.Drinking water 5.Right to Food 6.Right to Education 7.Problems of Minorities 8.Issue of Separate Statehood to Vidarbha THE EFFECT OF MOVEMENT : The continued follow up and Jan Andolans of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti has resulted in many success broadly classified as – 1.Waiver of small farmers crop loans 2.interest remission to marginal farmers 3.right to food to the lacs of tribals. 4.Primary Education to every rural students. 5.Farmers packages 6.BPL benefits to thousands of poor families. 7.Justice to unwed mothers