By admin       2017-11-27

: Cotton production is an unending cycle where even if the farmer wishes to opt out, s/he cannot. The bleak agricultural conditions prevailing across Jogulamba Gadwal, and in fact the country, means that most farmers are debt ridden. This has been well documented by journalists such as P Sainath. In such a condition, the farmers of the district are desperate for loans or advances. The cotton seed companies, through agents known as 'organisers' are willing to lend advances only to the farmers who will cultivate cotton. Money is lent not just for the cost of cultivating the cotton, but also for other “unavoidable expenditures” such as weddings and other ceremonies. The farmers do not have access to other avenues. This advance payment, at an interest of 2 or 3%, is a lifeline for them. A farmer who cultivates half an acre of cotton typically borrows about Rs 10,000. The yield brings home about Rs 40,000. Once the advance money with the interest is paid back, the farmer takes home between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000. But the farmer receives this money only seven months after he has handed over the crop to the organiser. In this time, it is inevitable that debts are accrued again. Once again, the farmer heads back to the organiser for an advance payment. In this fashion, the seed companies, the cotton mills and the organisers facilitate an unending cycle of cotton production. In Jogulamba Gadwal there are around 300 organisers, who are also farmers, who then employ sub-organisers, who are also farmers. These sub-organisers work as mediators between the organiser and the farmer. Another problem for the farmer is to identify a reliable organiser. In cotton production, the farmer has to rely on the organiser, if the organiser says that the cotton has failed the quality test, the farmer has to again cultivate cotton to clear the previous debt. In this process the farmer gets entangled in a web of debt. According to Ramu, a farmer, 20% of the cotton crop in his village fails the quality test. He says, “The organiser and farmer relationship works on credibility. If we fall into the hands of a wrong person, we are doomed.” “If two cotton tests fail, the farmer has to gulp down pesticide,” Ramu says. “What can they (farmers) do? Their land would be grabbed as per agreement if they don’t repay the loans. So they kill themselves,” Ramu explains. The village Sarpanch’s son, BN Sridarshan Reddy, who has been involved in the programme to stop the menace, says that the agriculture officers should organise workshops and explain to the villagers that they can make profits in other crop cultivation too. “The cucumber crop is growing well in this region. While you make money of Rs 70,000 only after seven months in cotton production, you can earn Rs 45,000 within two months in cucumber cultivation,” he observes.

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