Promote non-chemical farming to curb farmer suicides:
More farm credit, food security key to ending financial distress:VNSSM Panel report
Mar 07, 2016
State committee says reintroduction of oilseed and pluses, which require less water, is a must
To curb the growing number of suicides, Maharashtra government should ask farmers of 14 suicide-prone districts to adopt the Sikkim-pattern non-chemical farming. This suggestion has come from the committee which was appointed by the government to look into the vexed issue.
The report filed by the committee said that the rain-sensitive cash crop in these 14 crisis driven districts has seen uncontrolled use of fertiliser, pesticide which has resulted in serious deterioration of soil health and pest virus epidemic.
“Besides, dipping of ground water level, spread of complex multiple public health and ecological issues of environmental degradation have been alarming. Therefore, farmers should adopt the non-chemical environment friendly non-toxic agrarian practices,” said Kishor Tiwari, farmer leader who is part of the committee.
Tiwari said that delay in following this recommended pratice will aggravate farmers’ distress in future. “Reintroduction of oil seed and pluses which require less water is must. It will also help restore soil quality. This agenda should be implemented to revive agriculture in drought-affected regions,” stated the report.
The report also states that to make Maharashtra drought-free, soil moisture management has to be done. “The chief minister’s dream project Jalyukta Shivar and importance of soil moisture enrichment must be highlighted. Besides, the all small water sources and rivers will have to be revived. These sources are currently dead, and hence, with the help of civil society and rural masses at large, this movement should be taken to the next level. People are already participating and turning this Jalyukta Shivar to a mission. The government has already started working with support of NGOs to supplement the state’s efforts to make Maharashtra completely drought-free,” mentioned in the report.
The main reason behind farmers’ suicide is the agrarian crisis which is the result of successive drought and crop failure. “Credit, crop and cost management is must to provide sustainable solutions and improve productivity and income flow in the rural economy. Hence, the farm distress mission is focussed on this two-point agenda. The distress management relief plan will provide food and health security, better farm credit facilities in the existing network. There should be steps to provide water and electricity to every farmer, better education facilities in the affected region, livelihood management, more job opportunities under MGNREGA and Mudra scheme. There should be improved, zero pendency and corruption-free local governance, proper implementation of programmes and welfare schemes, better law and order situation in these 14 districts of the mission,” added the report.
More farm credit, food security key to ending financial distress
The committee appointed by the government to look into the farmers’ suicide issue has said that the state should offer more farm credits by introducing policies to end financial distress of debt-ridden farmers.
“The long-term sustainable farm credit policy has been drafted by VNSS (Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban) mission, which is the ultimate solution to curb the farm credit crisis and end economic exploitation and venerability responsible for the present acute farm distress. Presently the fund infusion for local value addition and post harvest holding and fair marketing facilities is too limited to cover even 10% distress farmers in the region. We have to look into these core issues with sustainable solutions safeguarding stake holder interest,” stated the report.
The farm credit diversion and detail petition has been lodged with the Centre and RBI-NABARD. Beside farm credict, food security is also crucial in the drought-affected region. “State government has started giving food security to around 7 million farming families. We are further extending it to deprived farm labourers and landless farmers under NFS. Hence, we are targeting to cover all needy and distressed people under food security in the drought-hit 14 districts by March. This will give average annual relief of Rs6,000 to every family in the form of food grain,” said Kishor Tiwari, farmer leader who is part of the committee.
The committee’s report said that they have also given suggestions on improvement of health services. “In recent past, annual health expenses of farm families in distressed area have increased tenfold. Every farm family having changed food habits and life style is suffering with non-communicable diseases and critical illness is adding fuel to acute distress. Hence, the committee suggested improvement in health insurance cover. The health services are pathetic due to continuous negligence and hostile governance, but this mismanagement of health administration is the result non-availability of health professionals,” stated in the report.
It states that the present health insurance cover is not covering all the illnesses and procedures which are common in rural Maharashtra. “There is an urgent need give proper health insurance cover that will provide free health care. There should be a special drive to improve the public health system and we need a complete action plan,” stated the report.