రుణమే మరణ శాసనం

3 నెలలు.. 156 ప్రాణాలు! 
పొలాల్లోనే ప్రాణాలు తీసుకుంటున్న రైతులు 
50 శాతం కౌలుదారులే! 
ప్రైవేటు అప్పులతో ఛిన్నాభిన్నం 
సాయం లేదు.. చర్యల్లేవు 
సర్కారు మొద్దు నిద్ర
రాష్ట్రంలో వ్యవసాయమే మాయాజూదంలా మారిపోయింది. ఈ జూదాన్ని నమ్మి రైతులు అప్పు చేయటమన్నది.. వారి పాలిట పెను శాపంలా పరిణమించింది. ‘అప్పు'.. భూతంలా వెంటాడి, పట్టి పీడించి.. చివరికి ప్రాణాలను బలిదీసుకునే వరకూ వదలటం లేదు. ఇందుకు రాష్ట్రంలో ఇటీవలి రైతుల ఆత్మహత్యలే ప్రత్యక్ష సాక్ష్యం. గత 3 నెలల్లో 156 మంది రైతులు ఆత్మహత్యలు చేసుకున్నారు. సగటున నెలకు 52 మంది.. రోజుకు దాదాపు ఇద్దరు! వీరిలో దాదాపు సగం మంది.. అంటే 74 మంది కౌలు రైతులు. ఈ దారుణ పరిస్థితులపై న్యూస్‌టుడే యంత్రాంగం పరిశీలన జరిపింది. అన్ని రకాలుగానూ ప్రతికూల పరిస్థితులు నెలకొన్న తరుణంలో ‘అప్పు' అన్నది రైతులను ఎంతగా కుంగదీస్తోందో, వారిని ఎంతకు తెగించేలా చేస్తోందో, రైతుకు అప్పులిచ్చే విషయంలో సమర్థమైన వ్యవస్థీకృత విధానం లేకపోవటం ఎంతటి దారుణాలకు తెర తీస్తోందో వెల్లడవుతోంది.
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Farmer’s Notebook: Debt increases with dependence on fertilizers, pesticides

M. J. PRABU, S&T, Agriculture, November 10, 2011

PRACTICAL: Vishwasrao Narayanrao at his vermicompost unit at Washim. Photo: Special Arrangement
PRACTICAL: Vishwasrao Narayanrao at his vermicompost unit at Washim. Photo: Special Arrangement

All technological progress minus agriculture is like a mirage in the desert

“Farmers first” becomes an ideal motto for any nation to progress.

“Unless farmers are empowered the economy of the country can collapse. India boasts of development, scientific advancements, and achieving self sufficiency in food grain production. But malnourishment, suicides, and health problems are stark realities that still exist in many rural areas.

UNFORTUNATE

“It is a well known fact that farmers in our country are considered unfortunate as there seems to be no great future for them in their profession,” says farmer Mr. Vishwasrao from Washim, Maharashtra.

For Mr. Vishwasrao, both his profession and health did not prove to be conducive. Born with a single kidney, blind in one eye, and surrounded by abject poverty, he worked as a farm labourer for many years.

“Though life proved frustrating, the desire to live made me invest the small amount of money I saved from my hard labour in buying a thorny and weed-infested fallow land deemed unfit for cultivation in my village.

SOME CONSOLATION

“I worked hard on the land, and the presence of a river near the land proved beneficial for irrigation. Within a year, I harvested a good yield of jowar, cotton and wheat.

“But after some time I realised that growing crops is not all only about irrigation as the outputs started declining.”

A local agriculture official explained to me about chemical and organic fertilizers, insecticides, and water management.

“I followed his advice and the yield increased but even this lasted only for a few years,” he says.

According to the farmer, overuse of chemical fertilizers and neglecting organic manures could be the reason for the declining yield, and he again started looking for the cause.

SEARCH FOR A GUIDE

Mr. Vishwasrao’s search brought him in contact with several farmers practising organic farming.

They impressed on him the need for making one’s own input for the crops and that it drastically saves money for the farmer and helps get a good yield.

OWN INPUTS

The farmer started dumping all the cut weeds, refuse and other wastes he could find in a three foot pit he dug and added urea and superphospate to the waste to accelerate the process of decomposition.

“It proved economical. I got nearly 30 cartloads of manure for my fields and it cost me about Rs. 600,” he says.

He is now using his well decomposed manure, vermicompost, and neem extract as spray for the crops. He is getting a very good yield of soyabean, greengram, bengalgram, tur and wheat.

“Recently, I harvested a record yield of 16 quintals from 2 kg of tur dhal seed. I sold the seeds at Rs. 200/ kg and got a gross income of Rs. 3,20,000. Farmers also benefited as they got it at a much cheaper rate, at Rs. 200/ kg instead of original price of Rs. 500/ kg,” he says.

ADVANCE BOOKING

In fact Mr. Vishwasrao’s tur dhal became so famous in the region that many farmers started booking the seeds in advance for the next sowing.

The farmer also gets good yield of 35-40 quintals of chilli from an acre and gets an additional amount of Rs. 52,000 from selling them.

“As a farmer, I am able to realise that many of us incur debt mainly because we buy fertilizers and pesticides. If this dependence can be reduced, it can in turn reduce indebtedness and distress. Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day but teach him how to fish, he will eat for a lifetime, goes the popular saying. The same is the case for farmers, ” he says.

NEED TODAY

“What we need today is a means to sustain throughout our lives. If our country needs to grow faster, empower the farmers. Only then true growth and development can take place. Without agricultural improvement all technological progress is like mirage in the desert,” he says prophetically.

For more details contact Mr. Vishwasrao Narayanrao Bunde at Pedgaon taluka, Risod district, Washim, mobile: 9765815472 and M. S Swaminathan Research Foundation village resource centre, Karda district, phone: 07251-226544.

Microfinance institutions push tribals into debt trap

Ravi Reddy

HYDERABAD: A number of Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) have penetrated into the Scheduled Areas of the State by exploiting the innocence of the tribals and luring them into taking loans at hefty interest rates.

Throwing all rules and regulations to winds, these institutions are having a free run in the tribal areas and targeting illiterate women. In violation of the AP Scheduled Area Money Lenders Regulation 1960, the MFIs are carrying out their business and pushing tribals into debt trap.

According to the Regulation, no person or institution can carry on business of money lending in Scheduled Area unless they obtain a licence. That money-lending was assuming alarming proportions in several tribal areas of the State was evident when the then Khammam Collector V. Usharani wrote a letter to the government in February 2010 explaining the murky financial transactions of these MFIs.

In her five-page letter, (a copy of which is available with The Hindu), she named Share Microfin Limited, Swayam Krushi Sangham (SKS), Spandana and Undamma Bottu Pedatha as carrying out money lending business. She mentioned that these MFIs had obtained certificate of registration from the Reserve Bank of India to carry on the business of microcredit advances, lending money for agriculture, industries and market linkage developments.

They were working in Scheduled Areas by lending money and completely defeating the concept of Indira Kranthi Patham (IKP). “Their method of extending loans to the groups with small interests looks apparently simple, but is accumulating to compound interest as the term of repayment is weekly basis and coercive methods applied to recovery on the tribals amounted to harassment,” the Collector said.

“The innocent tribal families are taken easily in to the lap of these agencies and ultimately become bankrupt unable to repay the loans. Due to the coercive recovery methods, certain borrowers have committed suicide,” she noted. She said a huge amount of bank loans are pending forcing the bankers to refuse loans to the IKP groups.

In her report, Ms. Usha Rani observed that these MFIs were registered as Public Limited Company. They came very much under the purview of the definition of AP Scheduled Area Money Lenders Regulation 1960 but were carrying on money lending in scheduled areas. She pointed out that loans were given to tribals in the scheduled areas against security of movable and immovable property where the Land Transfer Regulation 1959 is in force. She accused the MFIs of working against the Agency laws.

Report sought

When contacted, B. Rajasekhar, Chief Executive Officer, Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) said it was a fact that a number of agency mandals in Khammam were affected by the activities of the MFIs. He said a detailed report was being sought from the districts for necessary action.

State gets more teeth to curb moneylenders: Maharastra clears Maharastra Moneylenders (Rules) Act 2009

http://www.freepressjournal.in/FPJ/FPJ/2010/02/25/ArticleHtmls/25_02_2010_011_013.shtml?Mode=1

THE State Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the Maha- rashtra Moneylenders (Rules) Act, 2009 for implementation in the state. This new act will replace the Bombay Money- lenders Act, 1946 that was amended in 2006. Since the last three years, the law had been awaiting a formal nod from the Central Government. Though the Central nod was received last year, the implementation of this Act got further delayed due to the elections held then.
Subsequently, this Act was re- introduced in the cabinet on Wednesday and formally cleared. The provisions of this Act will be announced in the form of a government resolu- tion after the nitty-gritties are worked out.

This act is being implement- ed in a bid to provide protec- tion to poor farmers burdened by money lenders who lend at exorbitant interest rates and is meant to cap the problem of farmers committing suicides.

Though this is considered to be a landmark move, activisits say that it will not be of much help in reducing suicides by farmers. Kishore Tiwari, presi- dent of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti feels that this legislation is too little and too late. “The moneylenders have already donned different garbs to exploit farmers. Now, they have opened shops of pesti- cides, fertilisers and seeds and sell them on credit at huge lending rates. Once the farmer is unable to pay back, they officially file a recovery suit against them,” Tiwari told FPJ.
He explained that this legisla- tion would not have much impact because children of moneylenders are now lend- ing using this position in con- juction with multi-national firms and businessmen. This gives them official sanction to lend at exorbitant interest rates. They not just lend but also are traders for buying cot- ton and soyabean. This means that the farmer ends up com- pletely dependent on him, accuses Tiwari.

185 farmers committed suicide in State in first half of 2008-09

BANGALORE: The number of reported cases of farmer suicides in the State touched 185 in the first half of this financial year (2008-09).

The State’s agricultural sector has been facing a plethora of problems. Apart from the erratic monsoon this year, the shortage of fertilizers disrupted kharif sowing, leading to a delay in sowing operations in several districts.

The global economic slowdown is likely to depress the prices of cotton, while sugarcane growers are threatening an agitation seeking higher support price for their produce.

Sugarcane growers are unhappy with the procurement price (Rs. 811 a tonne) offered by the Government.

The State has not been able meet the sowing target set for the kharif season (2008). Sowing took place on 65.36 lakh hectares of land against the target of 74.4 lakh hectares, achieving 87 per cent of the target.

As on September 30, the highest number of suicide cases was reported from Hassan district (23).

A large tract of potato crop was destroyed in Hassan district owing to incessant rain during the kharif season. The loss has been estimated at over Rs. 300 crore. Hassan topped the list in the number of suicides by farmers in 2003-04 (69) and 2004-05 (37).

In Bidar district, 20 farmers committed suicide followed by 15 in Belgaum, 13 in Chikmagalur, 12 in Mandya, and 10 each in Bijapur and Chitradurga.

The number of cases reported from other districts are: Haveri – 2; Uttara Kannada – 6; Dharwad – 8; Koppal, Ramanagaram and Raichur – 3 each; Tumkur, Gulbarga, Gadag and Mysore – 7 each; Shimoga – 8; Kodagu – 4; Davangere – 6; and Dakshina Kannada – 1, according to sources in the Government.

Not a single case of suicide by farmers has been reported from six districts. The two drought-prone districts of Kolar and Chikkaballapur, and Bangalore Rural, Bangalore Urban, Chamarajnagar and Udupi districts reported no suicide cases between April and September 2008.

The number of farmers committing suicide has seen a decline from 2000-01, when 2,360 farmers ended their lives.

As many as 708 suicide cases were reported in 2003-04, 271 in 2004-05, 163 in 2005-06, 343 cases in 2006-07, and 340 in 2007-08.

Of the 185 cases reported so far this year, 136 cases have been placed before a committee set up to sanction compensation to the next of kin.

The committee rejected the claims in 62 cases and awarded compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to the families concerned in 23 cases.

The panel recommended compensation in 26 cases while the remaining cases are pending before the committee, according to official sources.

Officials said that investigation of the deaths by the police and the district administration revealed discrepancies between statements made to the police by the relatives immediately after the death and later.

Some natural deaths had been reported as suicide cases to get compensation from the Government, they said.

It is well known that “undue pressure” by moneylenders and some recovery agents of banks forced farmers to commit suicides in most cases.

The volume of business in private lending has increased four-fold during the past decade in the State.

The Technical Group to Review Legislation on Money Lending (headed by retired banker S.C. Gupta), which submitted its report to the Reserve Bank of India, stated that the money lent by moneylenders in the State increased to Rs. 87.70 crore in March 2006 from Rs. 19.22 crore in March 1995.

It’s high time farm pricing got a booster dose

Amrita ChaudhryPosted: Sep 26, 2008 at 0110 hrs IST

Ludhiana, September 25 With theWorld Bank giving a call to shift focus on agriculture to tackle food crisis, data gleaned from Punjab’s villages only add to its urgency.

The national census for the year 1991 showed Punjab as having 11 lakh farming families. Of these, 45 per cent were small or marginal farmers who owned fields measuring less than five acres. This figure in the next census in 2001 slid to 9.7 lakh and the percentage of small farmers to 30 per cent.

In other words, 30,000 farmers on an average quit agriculture each year. The primary reason for this has been the decline in profitability of crops, particularly paddy and wheat—a phenomenon that agricultural experts are trying to tackle along with suicides by farmers. For example, take the case of Gurdip Singh, a small farmer from village Mehla Kalan. Gurdip, who owns two acres of land, says, “I can just manage to raise food grains for my domestic use from these two acres.”

The situation of Avtar Singh, a farmer with 20 acres of land in Alamgir village, is no different. “My inputs costs over the years have skyrocketed while the prices of crops haven’t risen. And what we all forget is that farmer too is a consumer. I have to pay the college fees for my two children, which runs into lakhs per annum. Then there are the medical costs of my family.”

To drive home his point, Avtar Singh says, “A couple of years ago, one of my kidneys was damaged in an accident. I could not afford treatment. I know there will be a day when all my 20 acres will be lost in medical treatment.”

R S Sidhu, head, Department of Economics, Punjab Agricultural University, agrees as he explains, “The data speak so. The best period for agriculture in the recent past was between 1990 and 2000, more precisely till 1995. While the crisis in agriculture began around 1995, it was nationwide then. Now, however, Punjab alone is suffering. Our calculations have shown that while input costs have gone up dramatically, the rise in Minimum Statutory Price (MSP) of crops is very slow and this has resulted in reducing of profit margins for the farmers.

Sidhu adds, “Since 2001-2007 the input costs have risen by 8-9 per cent while the MSP growth has been hovering around 2 per cent. The wheat MSP announced this year (Rs 1,000 per quintal) had brought a relief for farmers and when the picture was easing out the latest news of Rs 850 as MSP for paddy this year is like a bolt from the blue.”

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Jadhav is running a rent-a-report service: Sainath

After PM’s advisor Naresh Jadhav attacked Magasaysay-winning journalist over his report on Vidarbha farmers, P Sainath retaliates with an equally vitriolic counter attack

Posted On Sunday, September 14, 2008

Deepak Lokhande

Picking up the gauntlet thrown by the PM’s economic advisor and Pune University vice-chancellor Naresh Jadhav, Magasaysay award-winning journalist P Sainath on Saturday tore into him for his claims that the farmers’ plight in Vidarbha is not as bad as it has been made out and said that the V-C was running a ‘rent-a-report’ service for the state government.
As head of the one-man committee appointed by the state government to study the benefits of the Prime Minister’s relief package for Vidarbha farmers, Jadhav had said in his report that Sainath was painting an alarmist picture of Vidarbha and had ‘defamed’ the state by doing so.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror from Norway, where he is attending an international conference, Sainath didn’t mince words, saying Jadhav’s report was just a ‘whitewash job for the state government’.
“How can criticising a state government mean criticism of the state,” said Sainath, the author of Everyone Loves A Good Drought who had described Maharashtra as a ‘graveyard for farmers’.
“He is running a rent-a-report service. His report is nothing but a whitewash job for the state government. He says Maharashtra is not the worst state, but only the fourth or fifth worst state in the country as far as farmers’ suicides are concerned. He is like a child who tells his father that he is not the last in the class, but fourth or fifth last,” said Sainath.
“Maharashtra is the only state where farmers are addressing their suicide notes to the CM and the PM. In Andhra, they wrote about policies, banks, moneylenders and others, but not the government. Here, they are telling the government we are killing ourselves because of you,” he said.
“In Maharashtra, we are putting our farmers in the pressure cooker and cooking them. And our CM says and I quote, ‘farmers should be grateful I am not prosecuting them as suicide is a crime’,” he added.
The veteran journalist added that contrary to Jadhav’s claims, the Maharashtra government had failed on every parameter, especially under Vilasrao Deshmukh’s leadership. Jadhav had claimed in his report that Sainath had used wrong parameters to

indict the state government.
“The National Crime Records Bureau statistics show that one-fifth of 1.66 lakh farmers’ suicides between 1997 and 2005 were in Maharashtra. Is this figure something to be proud of?” Sainath asked, adding that the farmers’ plight in Vidarbha was the worst in 2006, a year after the prime minister and the chief minister announced separate relief packages.
“The year witnessed the highest ever number of farmers committing suicides since we started keeping records. Of the 17,060 farmers who committed suicides in the country, 4,453 were from the state, which is almost one-fourth. These figures are never rivalled by any other state. The closest figure was in 2004 – around 4,100 ― and guess which state it was? Maharashtra, sadly,” he pointed out.
Countering Jadhav’s claims that Sainath chose wrong states (with less population to compare with Maharashtra), the journalist said even the population parameter didn’t save any grace for the state.
“The increase in the number of suicides (527) in 2006 was four-and-half-times that of Andhra Pradesh that recorded 117 more suicides than in 2005. Is Andhra four-and-half-times more populous than Maharashtra?” he asked.
“It’s amazing that after committee after committee found the situation in Vidarbha grave, Jadhav absolved the government. “The reports by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi Institute for of Developmental Studies, the Planning Commission, NABARD team, state investigators have been more adverse than the previous.
And whatever the parameters or ratings, 34,000 farmers committing suicides…is this something to be proud of?” he asked.
Pained that he was being painted as enemy of the state, Sainath said that if that was what he would get for telling the truth, then he wore it like a badge of honour.
Jadhav could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated attempts.