The state cotton cooperative marketing federation launched the procurement of new cotton this year on Monday at Akola amidst a protest and demonstration by the Republican Party of India (Ambedkar) and other farmers' organisations, against the 'meagre' support price announced by the state government.
In view of large-scale protest, the state machinery made a heavy police bandobast at the procurement centre where the cotton marketing federation could purchase only 25 quintals of raw cotton. Different organisations, particularly farmers bodies and RPI (Ambedkar) had taken a strong exception over the meagre support price of Rs 1900 per quintal this year and decided to stage demonstration in procurement centres. They had insisted that the state government should fulfil its election promise to provide a rate of Rs 2700 per quintal for raw cotton.
However, announcing the support price, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had even turned down the demand of Rs 2,200 as support price made by the Shetkari Sanghatana.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti said that the decision of the state government to pay Rs 1900 per quintal for raw cotton this year under the monopoly cotton procurement scheme has pushed down prices in the open market to Rs 1500 and less. This has put the cultivators in Vidarbha in further trouble, he claimed.
DR NP Hirani, chairman of the Cotton Cooperative Marketing Federation, who was present during the 'token' procurement of raw cotton at Akola claimed that the growers who sold cotton today at Akola was given the full payment immediately after the procurement. "We have paid them at the rate of Rs 2,020 per quintal," he further claimed and informed that the federation would open around 200 procurement centres in different parts in the state soon for buying the raw cotton..
Meanwhile, eight more farmers have ended their lives in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of suicides to 1066 since June last. The eight farmers included three from Yavatmal, two each from Wardha and Buldhana and one from Washim. The name of the victims were: Bharat Jambhulkar, Bhendala, Shivaji Venule, Kharbi, Soma Pawar of Naigaon (all in Yavatmal), Shankar Umak of Dhanori, Shankar Gaidhane, Karanja (both in Wardha), Rama Suradkar of Shegaon, Chandrakala Nimkhedkar, Taroda (both Buldhana) and Keshav Bakal of Shivdhi in Washim district.
As many as 26 farmers have taken the drastic step in this month itself. After the visit of Prime minister Manmohan Singh, the average number of suicides in the region has increased from 3 to 5. As many as 464 farmers have taken their lives in the region since the prime minister visited the region and announced an economic package of Rs 3750-crore to bail out the distressed farmers.