Free trade to blame for farmer suicides
(kishor tiwari talks to time of india)
NAGPUR: Eleven more farmers have killed themselves in the last 48 hours in Vidarbha. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) president Kishore Tiwari alleges 70% suicide cases have not been found eligible for compensation as per government norms. "The government says most of the suicides are on account of non-agrarian reasons like alcoholism, family problems and social tensions," said Tiwari. While official statistics said 1,452 farmers committed suicide last year, only 686 cases were found eligible for the Rs 1 lakh compensation. "Distress among cotton growers in west Vidarbha has worsened with the wrong policies of the state, which is bowing to WTO norms and free trade policies of globalisation. The Bt cotton seeds promoted by the government, instead of giving better yields or disease-free crop, have added to the woes of farmers as they are inadequately trained or protected from fake seeds," said Tiwari. As a result, the cotton economy of the region has collapsed, he said. Amravati divisional commissioner Goel insisted help was being provided on schedule. "Ongoing irrigation projects are being expedited and Rs 882 crore has been spent this year on them. Over 8,000 beneficiaries have been given 10,000 milch cattle in the last six months under the income supplementing scheme, while 6,000 sheep and goats have also been given to farmers," he said. VJAS has asked the Union government to earmark Rs 40,000 crore in the budget, to be announced next month, to tackle the agrarian crisis. "The government should provide for debt waiver, food security, proper health care, better irrigation facilities, education and rural employment opportunities," said Tiwari.