Saturday, April 01, 2006

THE PLIGHT OF FARMERS AND STEPS REQUIRED

It is 2050 AD. It is a history class. A student is asking his teacher,"Sir, where did these people called farmers live?what natural disaster made them extinct?"

This will be the situation in future if the govt continues to neglect farmers.Every govt comes to power announcing grand plans to help farmers. What is the ground reality though? Farmer suicides are growing by the day. Vidharba is soon becoming the cousin of andhra pradesh in farmer suicides.The Farmer suicides have touched an all time high of 400 this year in Vidharba.

Let us take the case of andhra pradesh where farmer and weaver suicides have become so normal that the govt is no more taking these suicides seriously.i was watching the story of a farmer suicide recently. The wife of this farmer says that, "even though we all decided to die, my husband stopped us and drank he pesticide himself. he was dying because atleast me and my children can have a better life with the compensation". What a touching story?he was dying to let his family live.
YSR's congress govt came to power on the plank of being a farmer friendly govt.In fact farmer suicides were at an all time high of 2321 in 2004-05(the first year of congress govt).Of these 1294 deaths were termed as suicides not related to farm losses. Even without those 1294, 1027 farmer suicides in one year is a staggering number. Very much so, during a regime that calls itself farmer friendly.In the ninth five year plan, the growth rate of this sector in AP was 4.35%. But according to the midterm review of the 10th plan, it is an appalling -0.4 %. During 1980-90, the growth rate of govt investments in farm sector was 8.5%. We would generally expect an increase in this figure during 1990-00, but that again decreased to 1.4%. These are all official figures of the RAMCHENNA REDDY commission setup by the YSR govt to find out the reason for farmer suicides and prepare a plan on how to decrease them.
A major concern is the disbursement of farm loans.YSR grandly anounced a 6 month maritorium on all farm loans immediately after he came to power. Infact this did not help, but rather was counter productive.Farmers did not get new loans to support the new crops.If we take a look at the curent financial year, the DCCB's (district central co-operative banks) have a target of disbursing more than 2000 crore rupees of short term loans for the kharif season.BUt the actual figures of short term loan disbursement are very disturbing. Only 213.5 crore rupees were disbursed according the Economic survey (2005-06). So not even 15% of the acctually planned amount. The situation of long trem loans is also the same. against a target of 460.5 crores, only 57.29 crores were disbursed.
A look at interest rates will reveal the true colour of these so called farmer friendly govts. An interest rate of 15% being collected from commercial banks and co-operative societies on farm loans. This in contrast to 4% interest rate on loans to buy cars like the mercedes. the small and the marginal farmers are the hardest hit. Only the large farmers are able to get loans from the govt and commercial banks at around an interest rate of 8% or so. The finance minister Chidambaram grandly announced that hence forth farmers will be charged only 7% on farm loans in the recent budget(2006-07).This is doubtful in the sense that actual ground level implementation of this is questionable. Even if we take the word of the finance minister, this wll benefit only 20% of the farmers who have access to bank loans. What about the rest 80% of small and marginal farmers? They will have to invariably go to the local money lenders who charge from anywhere between 24 and 48 % of interest.
In the name of recovering dues, the govts are using the revenue recovery acts which is unpardonable. The govts have to immediately do away with this act.

One more crucial factor is the market linkages.fake pesticides, low quality seeds are making the farmer's life miserable. Even though he gets a good yield, there is no guarantee of getting a good price. The govt has to build a strong market link structures eliminating all the middlemen. Only this will ensure fair play to the farmer.
Now to the all important question of seeds patents. The global players have arrived and started looting the farmers in the name of royalty. Monsanto for example charges rs 1250/- on BT cotton seeds which includes Rs 800 of royalty. Earlier farmers used to get these very seeds for Rs 450/-. The Govt at last has filed a case against monsanto MRTPS(Monopolies and Restrictive trade policies commission).
These global players are illegally taking away the diverse genetic property of this land which helps in preparin ghigh quality seeds. They take the away in the name of research which the foolish govts readily accept to.

The Govt has to soon revise its policies. If not, the so called rich and elite will have to survive by eating currency notes as there will be no food to eat.
The following steps are immedialtely required.

1. Strong market linkage mechanisms which will ensure decent price to the yield.
2. providing good quality seeds and pesticides in time.
3. disbursement of loans to all the farmers at 7% inerest rates(dis bursement should exceed targets)
4. To provide water and quality power.

Unless these are addressed, the specicies called farmer will soon become extict and we'll only come to know of their importance only after that hapens.........................................


JAI JAWAN JAI KISAN

2 comments:

div said...

Did you see sreeram's post abt farmers on his blog??

I'll tell him to fwd the link to you..

Rakesh said...

I did read Sreeram's post on farmers.........