Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vidarbha Agrarian Crisis-No water & fodder forcing farmers to sell cattle-Times of India

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No water & fodder forcing farmers to sell cattle

25 Jun 2009, 0433 hrs IST, Ramu Bhagwat, TNN

NAGPUR: With the monsoon not keeping date with Vidarbha, the fodder and water situation has become precarious. Reports from across Vidarbha say that farmers, who unable to buy the high-priced fodder, were selling their cattle. Senior officials from at least two farmers suicide-affected districts — Yavatmal and Wardha — confirmed that the fodder situation worsened because of the delay in rains and said emergency measures of setting up fodder depots were being taken up in the scarcity-hit areas.

With monsoon recording the longest-ever delay in the decade, water sources have nearly gone dry as reservoir levels have depleted to a low of 3-10% in Nagpur and Amravati. The weather department’s grim forecast of at least another week’s delay has triggered panic among farmers. “While travelling to Nagpur I saw a farmer in a Wardha village going in for distress sale of his cow,” said Nitin Khadse, a farm activist from Jalka village in Yavatmal district, on Wednesday.

“Truckloads of cattle are finding their way into slaughter houses of Hyderabad from the bordering Yavatmal district,” claimed Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari. He said agents from Adilabad in AP were buying healthy buffaloes and cows between Rs 3000 and Rs 8000 from all over Vidarbha. Mainly the cotton cultivators, who do not grow other crops like jowar, have no access to fodder which is in acute short supply. Some farmers are also selling bullocks hoping to buy tractors by availing bank loans later.

Yavatmal collector Sanjay Deshmukh and his Wardha counterpart Anupkumar Yadav admitted that the fodder situation has worsened in the last few days. “I have sent an urgent message to the government to take steps to declare the entire district scarcity-affected,” Deshmukh told TOI . “As per norms emergency fodder supply depots are set up only in areas declared scarcity-hit. Till now, 660 villages in six talukas of Yavatmal have been declared scarcity-hit to qualify for supply of subsidised fodder,” he explained. He has sought permission for extending the facility to the entire district in view of the precarious situation. Soya stalks are used for feeding cattle but the stocks have exhausted and delay in rains has only added to the problem.

Yadav said he has instructed officials to review the situation and set up fodder depots where ever necessary. “In the last couple of days I have received complaints from people’s representatives about acute fodder shortage,” he said.
Natural farming expert Subhash Palekar has appealed to the farmers not to dispose of cows and bullocks as they form integral part of low-budget agriculture. “One cow of indigenous breed is enough for a farmer to give up using chemical fertilisers and cultivate 30 acres of land by zero-budget natural method. Moreover, use of tractors in dry-land farming is not good as it destroys of the soil structure,” said Palekar. Abandoning of traditional crops like jowar whose stalks are used as fodder has led to the fodder crisis, he said.

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