The failure of timely intervention by the state government as regards the woes of cotton growers of Vidarbha seems to have only added to the agrarian crisis. The suicide by six more cotton growers of the region in the last 72 hours paints a grim picture of the correlation between the government’s inaction and distressed farmers driven to take the extreme step.
Reports reaching here on Thursday said that among the farmers who killed themselves over the last three days including two from Yavatmal district and one each from Gadchiroli, Nagpur, Amravati and Buldhana districts. All the farmers ended their lives by swallowing pesticides.
Kishore Tiwari, the convenor of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, a farmers’ pressure group and who has been relentlessly pursuing the agrarian neglect of the region and distress, said that the cotton growers were frustrated because of crop failure and now not getting remunerative price. "This drove them to take the drastic step. The region has seen six farmers suicides in the last three days, and the figure may go up," he said.
The meagre Rs 3,300 as guarantee price only add to the farmers’ distress and adversely affect the agro-economy of the region. "We are demanding a guarantee price of Rs 6,000 per quintal of raw cotton in view of the drastic increase in the cost of agro-inputs, like fertilizers, seeds and pesticides. But the farmers got a raw deal," he pointed out.
Former Shetkari Sanghatana leader Vijay Jawandhia said that the low rate of cotton price would worsen the situation in the coming days. "The government should come out with a package immediately," he insisted.
The plight of distressed farmers in the region was even highlighted by the KBC fame farm widow Aparna Malikar and Rahul Gandhi’s poster woman of agrarian crisis Kalawati Bandurkar, who vociferously participated in a recent rasta roko agitation in support of hiking the guarantee price of raw cotton.
Tiwari met the chief minister Prithviraj Chavan recently in this regard and apprised the ground situation in the killing fields of Vidarbha. However, nothing has materialized in this direction so far.
With the deaths of these six farmers, the toll has risen to 56 in November alone while the figure was 704 since January this year.
Cotton is the biggest cash crop grown of Vidarbha and parts of Marathwada and Khandesh. The crop’s price virtually decides the fate of 30-lakh (three million) families in Maharashtra, the highest cotton producing state.