By admin       2016-09-22

A government advisory not to grow cotton this kharif crop season has landed state farmers in trouble with prices of alternative crops they were encouraged to grow falling. And rubbing salt into their wounds, the price of cotton has been witnessing a dramatic rise. Further, there has been no word from the government so far on initiating market intervention measures and procuring of produce at minimum support price (MSP). The gravity of distress in the farming community this Kharif has been such that more than two farmers a day - 74 in all - killed themselves in the state just in August, according to Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV), an NGO that works on issues related to the farming community. This makes August this year the deadliest for farmers in the recent past. "When the government advised the farmers not to grow cotton at the beginning of Kharif, it was its responsibility to put in place a support system even before the farmers went for alternative crops. The system should have been ready to procure produce from farmers at reasonably good prices. In the absence of these steps, the government advisory has wreaked havoc and farm suicides have risen at an alarming rate even before the end of monsoon season," said Kiran Kumar Vissa, state executive member of RSV. Predicting low prices for cotton ostensibly based on projected global market scenario, the government advised framers not to grow cotton and, instead, asked them to go for crops such as soybean, pulses, and millets. Consequently, in Telangana, the third largest cotton producing state in India, cotton sowing fell drastically this Kharif and cultivation of other crops like soybean, red gram, green gram, maize almost doubled. But much to the farmers' shock, with Kharif drawing to close, price of cotton has gone up and prices of crops that they have planted have fallen. The farmers, in addition to being faced by dropping prices for their produce, are also having to contend with moderate yields that have been below par for the alternative crops thanks to the dry spell that took hold in the middle of the monsoon season. In different agricultural market yards in Telangana, cotton that was sold at Rs. 4,050 a quintal last year in August-September, is now fetching between Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 10,000 a quintal. Only a few are rejoicing this upbeat scenario since a majority of farmers abandoned cotton following the government's advisory. Against normal cropped area of 17.09 lakh hectares, cotton was sown in 9.86 lakh hectares this Kharif. On the other hand, cultivation of soybean went up by 148 per cent from 2 lakh hectares to 2.96 hectares. Redgram cultivation increased from 2.5 lakh hectares to 4.175 lakh hectares that is 168 per cent rise. Maize and greengram saw 190 per cent and 142 per cent respectively with cropped area of 4.91 lakh hectares and 2 lakh hectares. However, the prices of other crops have plummeted drastically. Greengram sold at Rs.6,965 a quintal last year is now selling at about Rs. 4,500. Soybean now sells at Rs. 2,800 against it's last year's price of Rs. 3,700 a quintal. Price of maize has fallen from the last year's Rs. 1,419 to Rs.1,200 per quintal. Redgram has seen a steep decline from Rs 7,000 to Rs.5, 827 a quintal. The government, however, is attributing the fluctuation in price to demand and supply dynamics. "It is natural that price of cotton is going up since cultivation of the crop has drastically gone down across the country. And farmers went for over cultivation of alternative crops because of which their prices have crashed," said principal secretary of the agriculture department C Parthasarathi. He said the government issued advisory against cotton to avoid a monocrop situation in the state and asking farmers not to plant cotton was not on the basis of price alone. 'However, the government is ready for market intervention, The farmers need not be worried," Parthasarathi said.

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