Sunday, December 31, 2006

'No cotton cultivation in 2007'

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'No cotton cultivation in 2007'

DNA Special
Say Kolezari farmers as they feel declining prices and spiralling production costs have sealed their fate.
NAGPUR: Vidarbha farmers have vowed not to grow cotton in 2007 till prices become profitable. This in view of the series of suicides that rocked Vidarbha and the consequent protests that sent ripples across the state.
Raising the slogan, 'Say no to cotton', farmers of Kolezari, a Banjara-dominated village in Yavatmal district, resolved to give up cotton and "shift to alternative pattern that is financially feasible and economically paying". The village, with 70-odd families, roughly has 450 acres of land.
"A day before my husband committed suicide, he said that the cotton has usurped us," said Chayabai Rathode, widow of Shivala Rathode. "I will not grow cotton myself and advise others to do the same," she said.
Prakash Rathode, whose father committed suicide in summer last year, read out the resolution before villagers during a symbolic protest demonstration. It said cotton cultivation is a high-cost and a high-risk business and hence needs to be dumped. With no substantial rise in the Minimum Support Price of cotton over the last decade, the prices in the domestic level are crashing due to surging imports and global subsidies, especially in the US, European countries and China. Declining prices concurrent with spiralling production costs have spun misery for the farmers.
It's in this background that the villagers came together on Sunday to defiantly say 'no' to what was once known as 'white gold' in the region. Among other alternatives, the villagers have decided to jump to food-crops that may not be alluring, but can restore soil nutrients that have eroded phenomenally due to chemical farming model. "There is no uptake of cotton this year, and the prices are falling despite the state government's promise to buy it from the farmers," Kishor Tiwari, the convenor of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, told DNA.
At procurement centre across the region, farmers' protests have reached a deafening crescendo. "Thousands of cotton farmers are waiting for the marketing federation to buy their yield for days," he Tiwari added. "This has been their fate year after year. And with no change in the policies, this is the only pragmatic step the farmers can take," he said.
Fighting the demon
Kolezari farmers have resolved to give up cotton
Kolezari is a Banjara-dominated village in the Yavatmal district
The villagers are planning an alternative occupation that is economically paying
They see cotton cultivation as a high-cost and a high-risk business
Declining prices and spiralling production costs have spun their misery, say farmers
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