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Union Budget
General Budget 2014-15: Distressed cotton farmers urge Arun Jaitley for steps to stop farmers' genocide
Main dry land cotton farmers advocacy group Vidarbha Janandolan Samti (VJAS) from Maharashtra has drawn attention of Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley toward the latest National Crime Records Bureau report, which says that since 1995 to 2013 more than 300,000 farmland suicides took place, which only reveals that every fifth farmer who ended his/her life in the country is dry land cotton farmer from Maharashtra.

Whereas with 3,146 distressed farmers ending their lives last year, Maharashtra has topped the list of farmland suicides in the country.

NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti's (VJAS) chief Kishore Tiwari said that it was the need of the hour to adopt pro-poor farmers policies to stop innocent cotton farmers' genocide, which was triggered in last regime of NDA when quantitative restrictions on import was lifted under the WTO conditions of free trade treaties.

Tiwari, whose NGO has been documenting the Vidarbha crisis since 1995 said that globalization, free trade, besides unpredictable rains with intermittent dry or wet droughts, lead to crop failures and increasing cost of inputs and cultivation practices, mono-culture or dependence on a single crop only, poor awareness of agronomics, and lack of proper farm credit availability lead to an increased hold of private moneylenders are core issues Indian budget should address.

VJAS recalled finance minister, the promise of PM Narendra Modi of introducing the renowned farm scientist M S Swaminathan's formula for fixation of MSP which provides for cost plus 50 per cent remuneration to the farmers as the basis of fixation of MSP for agricultural crops.

VJAS said that it should be looked into during the process of finalization of Union Budget for 2014-15 that is only way to make agriculture far more sustainable besides ensuring no farmer was compelled to either leave this occupation or commit suicide.

As most of the distressed small and marginal farmers who commit suicide are debt trapped, hence complete loan waiver and fresh interest free short term crop loans should be given to them. Tiwari added that other farmers should be given crop loans at 2 per cent, while urging for one time debt relief package for all the farmers.

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