NAGPUR: A day after four farmers committed suicide in Vidarbha and the Chief Minister announced a Rs 2,000-cr package, farmers of Maharashtra's eastern region on Thursday staged a road blockade on two highways to press for their demand of better support prices for cotton, soya and paddy.
The four deaths took the toll of farmer suicides in the State to 722 in 2011 alone. Terming the package as an eyewash, VJAS founder-president Kishor Tiwari said: “The crop loss compensation is another eyewash as earlier Vidarbha farmers’ packages in 2005 and 2006 have dashed hopes of more than 5 million farmers, who are facing severe crisis due to massive crop failure and are demanding the bailout package and hike in MSP of cotton ,soybean and paddy.”
“We are demanding a long-term solution to agrarian crisis not any package, which are mostly contractor driven and designed to rehabilitation of the ill managed politician-run cooperative banks. Our government is working for handful MNCs, which are manufacturing GM seeds, fertiliser and pesticides and revival of own agriculture is must which is not being done,” Tiwari said.
VJAS has urged the Centre to send a team of experts to assess the Bt cotton crop damage in Maharashtra, and west Vidarbha in particular where cotton farmers are killing themselves. VJAS has been demanding hike in cotton MSP Rs 6000 per quintal and relief package to dying cotton farmers of region, Tiwari added.
Chief Minister Prirhviraj Chavan on Wednesday announced during the winter session of Maharashtra Legislature in Nagpur that the financial package would cover all cotton farmers, while only those soyabean and paddy growers whose yield was less than 25 per cent would be given assistance.
He said the financial assistance would cover a total area of 85 lakh hectares - 40 lakh hectares of cotton, 30 of soyabean and 15 lakh hectares of paddy. “The farmers might settle for something that is close to their losses. But a mere Rs 2,000 crore package is not even worth peanuts,” said Kishor Tiwari. Supporting the agitation in a unique way were residents of Ralegaon, a small village in Yavatmal district, 160 km from Nagpur. Several spots on the National Highway Nos. 6 and 7 saw agitating farmers demand Rs 6,000 as the minimum support price for raw cotton as against the market price of Rs.4,000 per quintal.