Monday, May 16, 2011

Bt.cotton crisis-Saga Indian Ffarmer suicides-Times of India

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Two Days after Hike, Bt cotton seeds with Revised Rates out in Market

NAGPUR: Within two days of Maharashtra government approving a hike in prices of Bt cotton seeds, manufacturers on Monday started distributing stocks with packets bearing the new rates. The price has been hiked by Rs 180 per packet of 450 gm - from Rs 750 to Rs 930 of the BG-II variety. TOI had reported on April 21 that Bt seeds would cost around Rs 200 more in the ensuing kharif season.

Kashinath Milmile, a seed dealer at Pandharkawda, one of the main cotton growing centres of the region, told TOI he was yet to receive stocks from the seed companies. He said a manufacturer with the brand name 'Krishidhan' had distributed stocks with the new rates at Wani market. "The packets of BG-II bore a price tag of Rs 930 and that of BG-I had Rs 830, a hike of Rs 180 per packet," he said.

With reports of monsoon likely to hit Kerala coast by May end, farming activity has started with renewed vigour and purchases of inputs has begun in earnest. With the seed companies finally being allowed to raise prices, which had been stagnant for last four years, new stocks had been held up until now. "The fact that the seed companies are hand in glove with the government is clear from the fact that just a day after Maharashtra government allowed the price hike, packets with prices printed on them are already out," said Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.

Tiwari lamented that the state had meekly agreed to the hike without any resistance. "In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh the government is opposing the price hike," he added. Together the two states account for nearly 60% of the country's total area under cotton cultivation.

"The higher cost of seeds will add to the farmer's burden, with fertilizer costs having shot up by 24% as compared to last season," said Tiwari. Milmile also confirmed that DAP fertilizer, which was priced at Rs 512 a bag last year was now selling for Rs 637 and there were reports of a further hike up to Rs 670 soon," said the dealer from Pandharkawda.

"This capital intensive cash crop of cotton is full of risks," Tiwari said. But there is hardly any initiative from the government for any change in crop pattern and farmers are taking a bigger plunge into cotton. There are already reports that cotton area may go up by 20% from around 110 lakh hectares last year.

"Costlier seeds, fertilizers and a steep increase in labour costs will only increase risks, more so since there is no assurance of a higher returns in the next season. But unmindful of consequences more and more farmers from even other regions and those traditionally growing soyabean and tur are shifting to cotton," said Tiwari.

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