Yavatmal, May 15 (Ajit Weekly News) Angry over the reduced output, decline in prices and high production costs, over 10,000 farmers will take out a protest rally here on Thursday with plans to burn 1000-quintal of unsold raw cotton that they are saddled with, activists said here on Monday.
Over 80 lakh farmers are engaged in cotton cultivation in the state and last year, it was grown on a record 10.20 million hectare when the prices had touched Rs 14,000/quintal, said veteran farmer leader Vijay Jawandhia.
However, this year in the early stages of the season, nearly 40 per cent of cotton crop was destroyed-damaged in unseasonal rains, triggering a major agro-crisis this year.
“This year, the cotton prices have crashed by nearly 50 per cent – from Rs 14,000/quintal to barely Rs 7,000/quintal now, cotton exports had tumbled from 6 million bales to just 2 billion bales, pushing the cultivators across India into a fresh debt trap,” said Jawandhia.
Shiv Sena (UBT)’s farmer leader Kishore Tiwari said that this year, the state has already reported more than 3,300 suicides of cotton-growers in Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra regions.
“Through the May 18 rally, we are demanding a compensation of Rs 5000/quintal for the losses suffered by the cotton farmers failing which they could resort to extreme mass action,” warned Tiwari.
He explained that besides the crisis in the field, the Centre has added fuel to the fires to permit a record import of three million bales of cotton ostensibly to protect the interests of the textile mill industry while the farmers languish under loan burdens.
The duo claimed that even the prevailing rate of cotton (Rs 7,000/quintal) is only due to a strong US Dollar vis-A-vis the Indian Rupee, or else the prices would have collapsed even below Rs 6,000/quintal – or less than the MSP.
They informed that each participant at the rally shall come with 10 kgs cotton lying in their homes that will be dumped in an open area and then torched as a symbolic protest against the government’s anti-farmer policies.
Both Tiwari and Jawandhia said that the protest rally will have support of all major political parties and other farmers’ organisations, and unless the Centre takes strong note of the crisis, “it could lead to a genocide in cotton fields”.
–Ajit Weekly News
News Credits – I A N S