Thursday, November 30, 2006

A hundred farm suicides a month in Vidarbha

A hundred farm suicides a month in Vidarbha

By Shyam Pandharipande, Indo-Asian News Service


1. The sordid suicide saga in Vidarbha continues with the toll since June last year having spiralled to 1125 till November 26 with the month's figure itself touching 95.

2.
'The low yield is because of the genuine Bt. Cotton, which is highly uneconomic and known to fail in rain-fed farming'

3.
false predictions of bumper cotton crop in order to ensure low prices for the private traders and favour the US-based Bt Cotton seed selling giant Monsanto.

Pandharkawada (Vidarbha), Nov 29 (IANS) Five months after the announcement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Rs.3750 crore (Rs 37.5 billion) relief package for the distressed farmers in Vidarbha, the suicide spiral has continued disturbingly with reports of five more farmers ending life in the last two days.


Of the five farmers committing suicide, two each were from Yavatmal and Akola districts in western Vidarbha and one hailed from Gondia district of the eastern part of the region.

The sordid suicide saga in Vidarbha continues with the toll since June last year having spiralled to 1125 till November 26 with the month's figure itself touching 95.

According to the roster maintained by farm activist Kishor Tiwari's Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), the toll since June 2005 has reached a staggering 1140 with the last five months accounting for 533.

Curiously enough, the government website giving a daily update on farmers' suicide under the pain of a court order shows a higher figure than the one given out by VJAS, albeit with a rider that nearly 40 percent of the suicides are non-genuine, that is, not related to farm distress.

Meanwhile, a young cotton farmer is battling for life here after consuming a large quantity of deadly Indo-Sulphan around noon Tuesday in a desperate attempt to commit suicide over low price for the crop.

Rameshwar Kuchankar (26), who had apparently come prepared to commit suicide carrying the insecticide bottle and a suicide note in his pocket, went behind the market yard and guzzled the poison instead of approaching the cotton traders buying cartloads of cotton crop.

Hailing from village Somnala in Maregaon tehsil of the suicide-prone Yavatmal district, Rameshwar came to Pandharkawda to sell cotton since the government controlled cotton federation failed to open any procurement centre in his tehsil.

But since the procurement centre in this biggest tehsil headquarters in the district too was closed, the only option for him was to sell his crop to the private traders, which he was probably reluctant to do.

The suicide note found in the pocket of the convulsing Rameshwar mentions that the price of Rs.1900 per quintal for cotton is too non-remunerative to accept as it cannot ensure even the barest survival of the farmer and his household.

Warning state Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in his suicide note that he (Rameshwar) won't let him sleep and exhorting Deputy Chief Minister R. R. Patil to raise the procurement price to Rs.3000 per quintal, the young farmer beseeched his wife to pardon him for his act.

Squarely blaming the state's agriculture policies, particularly those pertaining to cotton for the continuing distress, Tiwari has accused the government of deliberately giving out false predictions of bumper cotton crop in order to ensure low prices for the private traders and favour the US-based Bt Cotton seed selling giant Monsanto.

Talking to IANS, Tiwari said while state marketing minister Harshvardhan Patil predicted cotton crop to the tune of 35 million quintal, the actual yield is not even half that.

The farm activist also refuted the government claim that the low yield is due to spurious Bt. Cotton seed saying that there was no spurious cotton seed in the market since Monsanto had lowered their prices from Rs.1780 per bag to Rs.750.

'The low yield is because of the genuine Bt. Cotton, which is highly uneconomic and known to fail in rain-fed farming', he said.

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service

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