Farmers get short-term aid, govt takes the easy route


Mumbai: Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s suggestion of a financial package for beleaguered farmers may end up being a piecemeal offer as the state government continues to remain silent about implementing the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers for an integrated reforms plan for agriculture.
    The report authored by Prof. MS Swaminathan has been gathering dust in the state agriculture department for the last six months as officials have failed to take up the reforms suggested to prevent suicides. The cotton-growing Vidarbha and Marathwada regions have witnessed over 1,000 deaths in the last five years, mainly due to mounting agrarian loans.
    â€œThe Swaminathan committee report has given a comprehensive analysis of the reasons and the remedy to prevent suicides by farmers. But the state government has shrugged off its responsibility by doling out
Rs 1 lakh to the family members of the farmer who committed suicide. No plan has been drawn up till date to tackle it in a holistic manner as recommended by the commission,’’ a top bureaucrat, requesting anonymity, told TOI.
    The report, a copy of which is with the TOI, has called for a series of administrative initiatives and has identified five key factors which have created a distress situation in the hinterlands.
    These are the unfinished work in land reforms, poor quality of water for irrigation, technology fatigue, inaccessibility and inability to ensure
institutional credit on time and as adequately required by the farmer, and lastly lack of opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing, the report states.
    The Swaminathan report has suggested that a separate

corpus, on the lines of the calamity funds, be created to assist crisis-ridden farmers affected by crop losses and ensuring of easy availability of credit for farmers.
    â€œFarmers have to face climatic and market risks without satisfactory risk mitigation systems and extremely poor
quality supply of services and inputs including credits,’’ the report states.
    It has recommended that a state level farmers commission be set up which would address issues concerning the distress in the farming community and would ensure a government response to problems of bad loans, poor irrigation and lack of market support for farm products.
    On the issue of cotton farmers, the Swaminath committee has devoted a complete chapter to enhance cotton productivity. It has recommended that group farming as a solution since agriculture is increasingly capital intensive.
    â€œA small farmer’s cotton estate covering 500-1,000 hectares should be set up which would increase efficiency and provide small producers with economies of scale. Each estate can be supported by a agribusiness centre to be managed by agriculture graduates who
would provide with technological inputs on modern ways of farming to the farmers,’’ the report states.
Officials point out that the state government is in possession of as many as three study reports on the issue of farmers suicides with one report prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Science, the second one by the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research and the recent one by Prof Swaminathan.
However, despite thorough analysis and plans suggested by these reports to prevent suicides, the government has opted to be silent on the implementation of the findings, an official said.

Both Houses
Nagpur: Both houses of the Maharashtra legislature, which met here for the winter session, were adjourned on Monday after condoling the death of former President K R Narayan as well as those killed during floods in Mumbai and other parts of the state. Members of both houses paid rich tributes to Narayanan, who was the nation’s first Dalit president. In the lower house, the resolution was moved by chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh while his deputy R R Patil moved it in the upper house.


BJP demands relief package

50,000 Farmers Converge To Nail Govt For Apathy


Nagpur: Ramrao Tukaram Patil sits under the scorching sun with 50,000 others. He has come here all the way from faraway Nandura taluka of Buldhana. After suffering crop losses and getting caught in a debt trap, Patil decided he had had enough. He is now here to attend the BJPorganised farmers’ rally which sought to nail the government for its failure to bail out debt ridden peasants.
    Though the BJP-Shiv Sena leaders also failed to reach out to the farmers in time, Monday’s mammoth rally, held on the first day of the winter session of the state assembly, did earn them some brownie points. While BJP leaders raised the pitch against the government over the suicide by 1200 farmers in Vidarabha, rally participants like Patil just hoped it was not mere rhetoric.
    Senior BJP leader Gopinath
Munde, touching the right chords, said the state had made a mockery of the suicides till recently. Instead of accepting the suicides and initiating relief, the state continued to attribute the deaths to disease, excessive drinking and even loss of mental balance, he said and added this only robbed the farmers of a chance to get a decent relief package from the Centre. “PM Manmohan Singh went to Andhra Pradesh and gave them relief. But the Congress government looked the other way instead of asking for a similar deal for state farmers,’’ he charged.
Munde said the state had failed to ensure that the farmers got loans at original rates charged by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard). The state banks continued to earn add-on interest on the Nabard loan even as farmers were forced to approach unscrupulous moneylenders. He demand Rs two lakh as immediate compensation for the families of farmers who had committed suicide.

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