Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vidarbha Farmers protest cartelisation by cotton traders-TIMES OF INDIA

Farmers protest Cartelisation by Cotton Traders

NAGPUR: It is two weeks now that the state cotton federation has launched procurement but not a single farmer has turned up to sell cotton at its collection centres because of the huge gap between minimum support price and the open market rates. But private traders are now being accused of cartelising in order to pull down prices as it has become a buyers` market.

Nearly half a dozen incidents of clashes between protesting farmers and traders trying to manipulate cotton and soyabean prices in Vidarbha were reported from all over Vidarbha, the latest being in Yavatmal APMC and at Chandrapur where the local Shiv Sena led the agitation. Traders who have a strong network and faster means of communication have allegedly ganged up. Same people are operating all over the cotton belt extending from Nanded in Marathwada to Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh. They are offering less price to farmers though international rates are ruling quite high. While the federation, which is buying on behalf of NAFED, is offering 3000 a quintal for the best variety, the open market rates are ruling over 4,000.

On Diwali eve, when farmers were wanting to offload cotton to get cash for festival, traders allegedly lowered the price to around 2800 a quintal at some centres as the federation was yet to begin procurement . However, a week later traders were paying 4500. A farmer Suresh Shedmate of Pandharkawda had to transport his crop last week from one market to another to get the right price, Only after he travelled some 100 km -- first to Yavatmal and then to Parva-- he could get a price of 4100.

"When arrivals are more, traders lower the prices," he told TOI. As a result, farmers have to run from one place to another carrying the cotton loads to get the best price, he added. A clash was also reported at Ghatanji between traders and farmers seeking higher prices.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishor Tiwari said the government was overlooking interests of the farmers. "The monopoly cotton purchase scheme was started in 1972 with the objective of checking exploitation of farmers by private traders. Some leaders like Sharad Joshi of Shetkari Sanghatana advocate the cause of free market. But at least in Vidarbha, where most farmers live in economic distress, such a policy does not work in his favour and only helps the traders," he said. "The only solution is that a government agency like Cotton Corporation of India, which buys at open market rates, should intervene and stop fleecing of farmers by traders," he added.

Read more: Farmers protest cartelisation by cotton traders - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Farmers-protest-cartelisation-by-cotton-traders/articleshow/6939260.cms#ixzz15VjLUUGS

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