Ending cotton debt curse
The parched fields of Vidarbha may finally be free of the curse of death and debt. A Planning Commission fact-finding committee has suggested that farmers take to diary farming as an alternate means to livelihood to stave off hunger.india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 03:26 IST
The parched fields of Vidarbha may finally be free of the curse of death and debt. A Planning Commission fact-finding committee has suggested that farmers take to diary farming as an alternate means to livelihood to stave off hunger.
It has also recommended fast-track clearance of pending development projects and suggested that the thrust be shifted from cotton cultivation to animal husbandry to give the regional economy a leg up.
Headed by principal advisor of Planning Commission, Adarsh Mishra, the committee has submitted a 225-page report to plan panel vice-chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia last week.
Over 600 farmers — mostly cotton growers — have committed suicide in the recent Kharif season.
The report to be submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after formal endorsement by the plan panel has made 30 recommendations. One of them pertains to better irrigation as the region is drought-prone and most cotton fields do not have access to water.
Deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Ahluwalia has sent copies of the report to all the members for opinion.
Sources said the fact-finding team visited the “death zones” a couple of months ago to get feedback from the farmers and take stock of the situation on ground.
They also met the families of the farmers who had committed suicide because of debts and crop failure.
The panel also met Maharashtra Governor S.M. Krishna, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and top bureaucrats. Fact-finding panel chief Adarsh Mishra confirmed over phone that the report had been submitted to the commission. But she refused to divulge the details.
The committee toured the region after a high-level team headed by the national farmers’ commission, M.S. Swaminathan, visited the area and submitted a report to the Centre with several suggestions to bail out the farmers.
However, the Swaminathan report did not elicit any response either from the Union or the state government.