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Killer Bt. Cotton fails again in Vidarbha
Narendra Ch
Sun, Oct 19, 2008 18:24:50 IST
THE KILLER Bt.cotton has once gain failed in the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra as 60 per cent of the standing crop which was earlier affected by the mealy bug has now been destroyed by a ’Lalya attack" that suddenly appeared in rain fed areas where standing Bt. cotton crop gets completely damaged.

The helpless farmers vexed with the government’s lack of initiative are now threatening to go on a "fast unto death" agitation from October 26 demanding immediate action at least by opening centres for procurement to stop falling prices.

Meanwhile, nine more suicide by farmers has been reported in the last three days. This year the damage is much larger as areas under Bt.cotton cultivation is under more than 12 lakh hectares and losses are to the tune of Rs.2000 crore. All victims of farm suicides belong to backward Dalit and tribal families who were in debt and in acute financial crisis due to sudden crop failure.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishor Tiwari said the government also failed to come to the rescue of the farmers by providing remunerative price to their remaining crops. According to him in the last fortnight cotton prices have fallen from Rs.3200 per quintal to Rs.2300 per quintal and local traders have started cotton procurement below the minimum support price MSP.

He said the farmers are forced to sell the cotton at throw away prices in distress sales as the Maharashtra government failed to start its procurement centres on October 2 as announced earlier. In addition, there is no action at the level of the state run cotton marketing federation to start its centres before Diwali. He said that cotton growers will face huge losses resulting in more suicides in Vidarbha.

He said that if the government failed to procure the farmer’s cotton at MSP then its move to raise the MSP would be ridiculed and will create more complications to the existing agrarian crisis. He demanded immediate opening of all procurements centres

Tiwari said that in order to press for their demand, they will be starting "fast unto death" agitation from October 26. He said farmers who are in distress are loosing confidence due to the pathetic approach of the administration and nothing is reaching them. That is also one of the factors behind the increase in recent suicide rates in Vidarbha. He also demanded government relief to all farmers who lost their Bt.cotton this year and provision to give fresh credit to cotton farmers.

He requested the government of India to start NFSM (National Food Security Mission) and special outlay of RKVY (Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana) along with a comprehensive policy for land rights to landless, marginal farmers and tribals cultivating barren land in Vidarbha.

He also demanded allocation of dedicated funds on the lines of AIBP for farm ponds, community tanks and give incentives to farmers harness water.

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