Sunday, March 30, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
14 farmer suicides in 3 days in Vidarbha
Nagpur: A farmer with five children has ended his life near here, taking to 61 the farmer suicide toll in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region after Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram's "historic loan waiver budget" of February 29.
Shrikrishna Kalamb, a 48-year-old farmer from Babhulgaon in Akola district, about 250 km from Nagpur, is among 14 farmers in Vidarbha who committed suicide in the past three days and 124th in the last three months.
Father of five daughters, two of whom are in the marriageable age bracket, Kalamb had a little over five acres un-irrigated land left with him after he sold small bits from time to time to meet contingencies.
A Rs 37,000 loan from a farmer's cooperative society did not qualify for waiver because of the two-hectare (five acres) ceiling stipulated in the central government's loan waiver proposal. Family sources however said Kalamb was more worried about a loan he had taken from an acquaintance.
In the suicide note he left behind Monday, Kalamb compared his sudden decision to die with last week's un-seasonal rains that inflicted huge damage on crops in Vidarbha and described his act of suicide as an offering to god like "kanhola" - a rice flour puri hung before god amidst a floral arrangement.
Sudhakar Pote of Selu-Murpad in Wardha district, who too committed suicide by hanging himself Monday morning, owned 16 acres and was not eligible for the loan waiver.
Two others, Vijay Akre of Jamtha and Shankar Tayde of Hingna-Balapur (two villages in Akola district) ended their lives a day earlier though they owned respectively four and two-and-a-half acre agricultural land and were eligible for the relief.
Ten more farmer suicides were reported from different parts of Vidarbha Sunday and Monday.
While United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi's promise to take up the issue of raising the two-hectare loan waiver ceiling for un-irrigated regions has soothed the frayed tempers in suicide prone Vidarbha, the absence of sops to cotton growers in the state budget has dismayed people.
"There is not a word in state Finance Minister Jayant Patil's budget about the guarantee price of Rs.2,700 to cotton which Sonia Gandhi and both the constituents of the ruling Democratic Front (Congress and NCP) had promised in their 2004 election manifesto," said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishor Tiwari.
"A complete loan waiver coupled with food and health security, incentives for low-cost organic farming and food crop cultivation are necessary to ease the agrarian crisis," Tiwari told IANS.
There have been 80 suicides in January this year followed by 86 in February and 54 till date this month. Only a comprehensive solution can arrest the frightening trend, the farm activist added.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
After Central Govt. now Maharashtra Govt. Budget too failed to address vidarbha agrarian crisis :No relief for food security and health care
After Central Govt. now Maharashtra Govt. Budget too failed to address vidarbha agrarian crisis :No relief for food security and health care to Distressed Dying cotton farmers.
Nagpur-19th march 2008
Today Maharashtra govt. too failed to give any relief to vidarbha cotton farmers after big loan waiver of Indian govt. failed to provide any debt relief to more than 90% vidarbha cotton farmers due it's upper cap to 2 hector and cut off date being 30th march,2007 as it was expected that next being election year maharashtra govt. would restore cotton price or announce the rs.2000 per hector subsidy to cotton farmers but finance minister Maharashtra Jayant Patil failed to address this long pending important issue ,kishor tiwari president of vidarbha jan andolan samiti informed in a press release.the amount shown for irrigation project is part of vidarbha backlog and included in the AIBP hence this is not the relief asked by the cotton farmers.tiwari said.
The vidarbha region has witnessed the more than 20000 r of suicides by debt-ridden farmers in the last ten years of congress-ncp govt. but issue farm suicides is not being addressed due apathy of political parties and negative attitude of babus in the administration as even though state has shown the surplase of rs.400 crore in state budget but failed to relief aid such as food security,health care,food crop incentives free education to ward of distressed cotton farmers in order to stop on going farm suicides in region ,kishore tiwari added. .
Maharashtra govt has not taken any budtory step to help debt trapped vidarbha cotton farmers as "Close to 60 percent farmers in Vidarbha have a landholding of more than two hectares and most of them are in distress on the Maharashtra government's own admission and all such farmers in the region, which has witnessed a large number of suicides by debt-ridden farmers, would be deprived of the benefit announced by central govt "tiwari told..
Pointing out the absence of provisions for increasing farmers' income, price stabilization and incentives for low-cost farming that would have signalled a beginning of the quest for a durable solution to the agrarian crisis, Tiwari also questioned Maharashtra govt,s silence over food security and rural health.
Earlier the annual budget presented by Chidambaram has a farm loan waiver provision of Rs.600 billion intended to extend the benefit to 40 million farmers across the country. The one-time settlement would cover marginal and small farmers whose loans were rescheduled last year. kishor Tiwari's also demanded that a loan waiver up to Rs 50,000 rather than up to two-hectare land holding would have been more appropriate.
"The two-hectare cap would mostly benefit the sugarcane and grape cultivators in western and southern Maharashtra who have smaller land holdings but large-income-yielding agriculture because of the irrigation facility available there," tiwari added.
Kishor tiwari urged UPA Government to restore advance bonus and give rs.2700/- per quintal price as promised in the UPA manifesto. ".
Tiwari said most of the political parties are shedding crocodiles tears over the insult of cotton farmer but they are not talking about finding solution to redress the hardships of the Vidarbha farmers. Presently most of the farmers who are committing suicides are victims of poverty and hunger that has resulted after the economic collapse in the Vidarbha region due ongoing agrarian crisis.
"We demand urgent step to provide food security and health care facilities to these dying farmers before making arguments over farm suicides being agrarian or non-agrarian. Now the time has come to give complete loan waiver and price protection on all agriculture produce from free trade in WTO era to Vidarbha dying farmers", Tiwari added.
Please arrange to release this press note
For VIDARBHA JAN ANDOLAN SAMITI
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Even a loan waiver scheme not enough for Vidarbha farmers-Next step is to save farmers from another debt trap-M S Swaminathan , MP, NCF ex-chief
Even a loan waiver scheme not enough for Vidarbha farmers
Friday, March 14, 2008
Farm bonanza fails to save
's dying farmers India
Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:03pm EDT
(Editing by Simon Denyer)
© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content,
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
In Vidarbha, many farmers will not benefit from the waiver because they possess over two hectares of land. Above, Durpata Bhalerao Ataram, whose husband committed suicide in 2007.
DURPATA BHALERAO ATARAM’S land is no longer an asset. It seems like a burden. She has 10 acres of it, but no money to grow a crop.
“I’m fed up. After investing so much money and effort on the land, we barely get enough to eat. Next year, I am going to lease it out and work as a farm labourer,” says Durpata, a widow from Burgavan village in Yavatmal district in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. Durpata’s husband killed himself last year. Now, her two young sons help her with the farm.
“There was no rain when he sowed the crop the first time, so he had to sow twice. The expenses were high. The tension was too much for him. He had borrowed Rs.40,000 from the moneylender to get our daughter married, and Rs.50,000 from the bank for the farm,” says Durpata. She is not going to benefit from the farm-loan waiver announced as part of the Union Budget. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram announced that four crore farmers would have their loans worth Rs.60,000 crore waived.
The waiver is only for farmers who own less than two hectares of land. Many widows and poor farmers such as Durpata have been excluded from the waiver in Vidarbha, which has the highest rate of farmers’ suicides in the country. On the day Chidambaram made the announcement, 10 farmers in Vidarbha committed suicide. In this largely cotton-growing region, 1,242 cases of suicide were reported last year – that is, three every day.
“Only around 35 per cent of the farmers here have land below two hectares. Of them, we don’t yet know the number that will be eligible for loan waiver. Very few farmers in Vidarbha will actually benefit,” says P.B. Ghatode, Assistant Manager at Central Bank of India, Mohada, in Yavatmal, which has given loans to 1,500 farmers in 26 villages.Undivided landholdings
“Mostly, the big landholders will benefit. They have already divided their landholdings amongst the brothers. The poorer farmers have not. Our seven or 10 acres may seem bigger on paper. But actually it is divided between many sons,” said Mangalabai Prabhakar Mokhadkar, whose husband committed suicide in 1998.
“You cannot treat the farmers with irrigated land in Punjab or western Maharashtra on a par with the dryland peasants of Andhra Pradesh and Vidarbha. In western Maharashtra, the landholdings are much smaller, but they get more than two crops because they have irrigation, and they also get bigger loans,” says Kishor Tiwari, leader of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which has been campaigning for farmers in the region. The crop loan for sugarcane is Rs.15,000 an acre and for grapes it is Rs.80,000 an acre as compared to Rs.4,000-5,000 for cotton. “[Union] Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s stronghold in prosperous western Maharashtra will benefit, not the farmers in Vidarbha who are in a crisis,” says Tiwari.
Vidarbha and Marathwada are the poorest regions of Maharashtra. Since the black soil of Vidarbha is perfect for cotton cultivation, the region prospered during British rule and until the 1970s because of the textile mills. The orange orchards of Nagpur also helped. But Vidarbha’s fortunes declined when the textile industry collapsed. The government did not invest in rural infrastructure such as irrigation to fill in this gap.
The Maratha lobby that rules the State gave priority to its constituencies in western Maharashtra (considered “drought-prone”), and used State money to build their fiefdoms as sugar barons. Ironically, the water-intensive sugarcane crop is now grown in a drought-prone area. Profits for the sugar barons, rather than sustainable agriculture were the driving force. Over decades, the regional disparities have only grown wider, and Vidarbha is now India’s suicide zone while western Maharashtra is kept alive with huge doses of subsidies.
Dorli village in Wardha district was one of the first to announce that the village was up for sale, as a form of protest against the farm crisis that has reduced most farmers to penury. “Here, only 13 out of 40 farmers have less than two hectares, and of these, we don’t know how many have defaulted on loans before the cut-off date of March 31, 2007. The number will be even lower,” says Vijay Jawandhia, president of the Kisan Coordination Committee, a coalition of farmers’ organisations across the country.
In Adivasi villages of Yavatmal, several farmers have more than two hectares of land but live in dire poverty, paying interest to moneylenders from Andhra Pradesh at 50 per cent per annum.‘Modify waiver conditions’
“Instead of using land area as a cut-off point, we recommend that the government waive loans up to Rs.50,000 for all farmers, so that those who are really in need will get some relief,” says Jawandhia. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh agreed with this suggestion at a public meeting in his constituency of Latur in Marathwada. Union Minister for Panchayat Raj, Youth Welfare and Sports, Mani Shankar Aiyar, also visited Vidarbha. Farmers hope that he will convince the government to modify the loan waiver conditions after seeing the ground realities.
There are 18 lakh farm households in the six crisis-affected districts of Vidarbha. The average landholding here is 7.5 acres. The State government has been publishing huge advertisements in the newspapers claiming that 33 lakh farmers will receive loan waivers worth Rs.9,310 crore. However, it is uncertain how much of that pie will come to Vidarbha.
Seventy-two-year-old Ramdas Udhav Kera, a small Adivasi farmer from Vadki village in Yavatmal, has three acres of land. He will not get a loan waiver. Ramdas borrowed Rs.10,000 from big landowners to pay off his bank loan in time, so that he would not be listed as a defaulter. Then, he took a fresh bank loan of Rs.30,000 during the sowing season in June 2007. That loan will not be written off, as it was taken after the cut-off date.
“I made a loss of Rs.5,000. There’s no money to eat. Who will give work to an old man? Now even the sahukars (moneylenders) have stopped lending,” says Ramdas. “Those who are regular and honest are being punished and those who didn’t pay in time are being rewarded.”
Soon after announcing the loan waiver, Pawar and State Home Minister R.R. Patil urged people not to pay back moneylenders. Patil went as far as to say that moneylenders should be “skinned alive”. A few years ago, Patil had launched a campaign against moneylenders during which several of them were arrested and some were attacked in villages. Since then moneylenders have become cagey. “The bank loan is not enough to cover all farm costs. So people have no choice but to go to the moneylender,” says Ramdas. The loan waiver is a political stunt aimed at the upcoming elections. Unless the real problems with the agricultural policy are tackled, farmers will be unable to pay back their new loans.Unsustainable farming
With prices remaining low and the costs mounting, farming is no longer sustainable. “Just give us a fair price for our harvest and we won’t need any relief or loan waivers from the government,” says Mansoor Khorasi, a small farmer from Mohada. “Since 1990, the input cost has risen by 300 per cent but the price of cotton has remained the same. What else can you expect but bankruptcy? A loan waiver is just a dose of oxygen. To make us stand, they should give us a proper price, irrigation and other facilities such as health and education.”
“Every year it’s the same story. After we have sold our harvest, the price rises. There should be some price stability, so that farmers are assured a fair price,” says Jawandhia. “The government keeps the prices of farm products artificially low. The international market price of wheat is Rs.3,000 a tonne, but in India the farmers get only Rs.1,100. Why can’t farmers benefit from the free market? To keep food cheap, why are they making the food producers poor?”
Ramdas laments: “The Prime Minister’s promise is like that of a magician at a fair who keeps telling us a snake is going to appear from the basket, and we keep waiting and waiting, but it never appears.” The Prime Minister and several other Ministers have come and gone but Vidarbha is still waiting for the magic trick.Dionne Bunsha in Yavatmal
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
The new Union Budget does not really help the farmers in Vidarbha; they need more than just a loan -waiver-Mamta Sen :Mid Day reports
Benefit of doubt
Author: Mamta Sen Date: 06 Mar 2008
The new Union Budget does not really help the farmers in Vidarbha; they need more than just a loan waiver
BARELY a week after Finance Minister P Chidambaram announced Rs 60,000 crore-loan waiver package, five farmers committed suicide in Vidharba.Kishore Tiwari, president of the Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti believes that both the State and Central governments are trying to give relief packages and ignore the real issue. According to him, there are 13 lakh farmers spread across the six districts of Vidharbha Amravati, Akolka, Buldhana, Yavatmal, Washim and Wardha, who need relief and not relief packages.Failed packages"They are in dire need of relief instead of relief packages. Neither the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana nor the National Food Security programme is mentioned in the budget. The Yojana is supposed to provide irrigation to irrigated as well as non-irrigated lands of all farmers," he said. He added that the earlier two packages announced by the State and Centre in 2005 and 2006 had failed to materialise. No money"From the 60,000 farmers identified for the package then only 32,000 were able to get relief, out of which 80 per cent were given cows, bullock carts and pumps instead of the promised money."Tiwari says that there should be introduction of a processing scheme for the cotton from Vidharbha. "Presently, the Chinese economy is booming on the cotton from Yavatmal, which is processed into cloth. Why can't we have similar processing units in the barren lands of Vidharbha?" he asked. Widow Ranjana Chavan though says that more than loan waivers, they want to do away with the cotton crop and opt for jowar or wheat. "We want new seeds and also want to learn new skills, so that we are not dependent on agriculture alone for our survival," she said.
Relief tough to availMohan Madedvar, of Pandharkawada village, cites that relief packages hardly reach the family due to lack of infrastructure and corrupt officials. "One has to travel to the nearest city or town in private vehicles to get to the bank to avail the sum. Then they have to bribe the babus, for which the sum is borrowed from private money lenders," he says.Madevar believes that the new package benefits 70 per cent of the farmers from western Maharashtra and only 10 per cent from Vidharbha, as most farmers in the latter region have farm holdings over 5 acres. "It would help tremendously if the loan waiver is applied to over five hectares, as most farmers here own lands that range between 12 to 19 acres," he adds.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Pawar's bastion reaps most from loan waiver
Radheshyam Jadhav TNN
Pune: Even as political parties slug it out over who will get credit for the farmer loan waiver, Sharad Pawar will have the last laugh. His stronghold of western Maharashtra is likely to get more sops compared to other parts of the state. About 1.25 lakh farmers in Pune, 4 lakh in Kolhapur, 65,000 in Satara, 2.5 lakh in Ahmednagar, 1 lakh in Sangli and about 3 lakh farmers in Solapur will benefit from the loan waiver. This is the region from where Pawar's political power flows. In contrast, in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha which saw the maximum number of suicides over the last few years, only 1.5 lakh farmers are likely to benefit. In all, loans of approximately Rs 1,800 crore of farmers in the sugar belt will be waived while Rs 1,500 crore loans in Vidarbha will be cleared. NCP leaders admit that the party will benefit. Western Maharashtra is the stronghold of the NCP and out of party's 71 MLAs in the state assembly, 26 come from this region. Six out of 11 party MPs represent the sugar belt. "Most of the Vidarbha region is rainfed and the farmers here hold more than two hectares of land, which makes them ineligible to benefit for the loan waiver. The land-holdings in Western Maharashtra are by and large smaller, but is irrigated," said Kishor Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. He added that if the Vidarbha farmer gets a loan of Rs 4,000-5,000 per acre, his counterpart in the sugar belt can get a loan of upto Rs 1 lakh depending on the cultivation. " Paw a r 's bastion will get maximum benefit, while farmers who are really distressed will continue to suffer. We are not against farmers in the sugar belt being benefited, but distressed farmers should not be left out of the loan waiver," Tiwari said. The NCP is already riding the loan waiver wave. It has organised a series of rallies to celebrate the loan waiver. When TOI tried to contact Arun Gujarathi, the state unit chief of the NCP was busy with the celebration rally in Kolhapur.