Bt cotton hurting farmers - Minister of Agriculture
Now delayed rains are having a devastating impact on Bt cotton growers in Maharashtra's main cotton belt of Vidarbha – so much so that even the Minister for Agriculture in Maharashtra, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, is acknowledging the problem: "The Bt cotton cultivation is not working in Vidarbha region. It is causing more distress to the farmers." (see the article below)
This admission follows hard on the heels of the internal advisory, leaked after being sent out to cotton-growing states by India's agriculture ministry, that admitted, "Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers."
1.More trouble for debt-hit Vidarbha farmers
Daily News & Analysis (DNA), April 24 2012
Mumbai – The agrarian crisis in cotton-growing belt of Vidarbha is going to get worse as production has fallen by 50%.
"The cotton crop yield this year is 45 lakh bales. Last year, it was 85 lakh bales," said Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, minister for agriculture. "The primary reason for the shortfall in the cotton production is delayed rains. The intermittent showers which were unseasonal further aggravated the situation as it damaged the crop. In addition, the Bt cotton cultivation is not working in Vidarbha region. It is causing more distress to the farmers."
The state government is trying to ascertain its financial impact on the farmers in Vidarbha.
The biggest concern is that if farmers cannot recover their investments due to low production it is bound to push them to deeper financial problems. To what extent the Centre is likely to bail out the state government remains a question mark.
The non-receipt of declared relief for crop loss and the sudden crash in cotton prices due to stringent restriction on cotton export saw three farmers, including a woman, committing suicide last week.
Bowing to massive protests from farmers, the Central government had decided to withdraw the 5% purchase tax on cotton bales.
The Centre has also promised to provide relief by relaxing the restrictions imposed on export of cotton.
"The biggest challenge is to ensure the number of farmer suicides in the region does not rise. The financial condition of the cotton cultivators is getting worse," said Kishore Tiwari, chief of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.
The recent Comptroller and Auditor General report said: "The 2005-06 Prime Minister package for Vidarbha has not helped in improving the conditions of the farmers as expected."
The report has also indicated rampant corruption and delay in implementation of the package for long-term projects.