Paddyy farmers in AP plan to grow capsicum


Farmers by and large never sit idle, even when they are protesting. Thousands of farmers in East and West Godavari, Krishna districts, who have declared a crop holiday to an extent of two lakh acres this kharif, are not the ones to waste time. While making their protest heard in the State capital, farmers are seriously contemplating life beyond, not just this kharif, but also paddy.

“It is time to reduce dependence and pressure on paddy,” Mr Trinadha Rao, a farmer in the water-rich East Godavari district, told Business Line.

With paddy yielding no encouraging returns, farmers have begun to look at alternative crops that could give them bankable incomes.

As their peers continued the novel protest by locking up the water distribution channels, a small team of 30 farmers had just completed a trip to Pune. They went there to study new models of farming that threw open lucrative vegetable markets to farmers.

To begin with, the farmers could build a couple of green houses this year. “We will break the beaten track and grow capsicum this year,” Mr Trinadha Rao, who also heads the local Water Users’ Association, said.

The team went to Pune on an invitation from WALAMTARI (Water and Land Management Training and Research Institute). After seeing the greenhouse-based vegetable farming, the farmers from Andhra Pradesh are convinced that it is time to change.

“We will try to convince our friends back home on the importance of the change,” Mr Rao who was on his trip back home, commented.


Mr Tirupathaiah, Director-General of WALMTARI, said it was time for the farmers and the Government to change their mindset. “People think that irrigated agriculture means cultivation of paddy. It, in fact, is not. We need to explore alternatives. We should go for irrigated dry crops such as maize and ragi. These crops have huge demand,” he said.

“High value floriculture too could be an option. By building poly houses, we can control water, temperature and humidity,” he said.


WALAMTARI is planning to take another team to Tamil Nadu that had built extensive area under precision farming in order to face low availability of water. “We will lead a team in mid July,” he said

Dorli: A village which bought its future

In 2006, we were siting at Sevagram Ashram, Wardha to discuss about the problems with the rapidly expanding Bt cotton.  CSA was one year old and working with NGOs and activists was new for me.  We were shocked when heard that a village nearby was up for sale by farmers.  Mr. Vijay Jawandia, from Waifad near Wardha suggested that we all will visit the village.  Before that we heard some stories about village being sold in punjab…etc.  Some of us decided to go. By the time we reached the village it was 5.00 p.m in the evening. Entire village had signs of despair, farmers have left farming…caught in the debt spiral of increasing costs and stagnant prices and decreasing public support.  They made requests to the government but there was no response.  On 11th December, 2005 the villagers after long discussion…felt that they can no longer continue with the farming given the situations completely against them.  They decided to sell their lands.  Every one of the 40 odd families, 270 people living supported the decision. On 12th December they formally announced the sale.  Since then the village hub of activities….News media rushed to the village…local…national and international media wrote extensively about the village.  Soon it became an icon of the Vidharba Crisis.  Except for the the government and the ruling political party, many visited the village.

It was the time when we first published the report of ‘Punukula’ a village in Khammam dist of Andhra Pradesh which became completely pesticide free.  The farmers started following what we call as Non Pesticidal Management, growing crops without using chemical pesticides.  Chemical pesticides form the chunk of the farming expenditure and farmers face severe health problems with them.  With my broken Hindi I shared the experience and suggested if interested they can also give a try for sustainable agriculture…few of them sujatha…jharunde…chandrasekhar dorlikar came forward willingly…we quickly planned for few trainings along with few of our colleagues.

the first year they could do better…stopped cotton and shifted to soya, jowar and other crops.  Seeing their crops others in the village also came forward to take up such farming.  The year 2007-08 was a very bad year with complete drought…the village receiving about 80 mm rainfall.  Nothing could be grown.  Department of agriculture came forward to help with watershed program to conserve the moisture.  All the well in the village dried up except for one.  The villagers decided that they will not use that for crops but conserve for drinking. In 2009-10 and 2010-11 they received good rains and all the farmers gave up cotton and moved to soybean, jowar, maize, vegetables etc.  They stopped using chemical pesticides initially and later, fertilisers as well.  They could save 3000-5000 per acre on cost of cultivation.   Now all the farmers have shifted this year the entire village is going to be Organic.  The also spread few more neighboring villages from last year.

While this is the story of the Dorli village which at a point of time was up for sale and by their own action could bought back their future…the crisis in other villages in Vidharba still continues…Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh visited Wifad and announced a large program to support farmers with a budget of Rs. 25,000 cr and it shaped itself as Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.  Neither this program nor any other one for farmers is actually meant for farmers it is either for the organisations for large projects and high salaries or for the industry which supplies inputs.  The Seed MoUs of various states are an example.

Its the apathy of the government and their skewed priorities and corrupt officials which are selling away the livelihoods of the farmers.  How do we fight them?

The following are some of the stories written n 2005-06 by various magazines.


Protests continue over shortage of cotton seed

WARANGAL: Angry farmers continued their protests in north Telangana districts on Thursday over shortage of cotton seeds. At some places, they pelted stones on the revenue offices and market yards. The ryots also burnt the effigies of ministers and staged rasta rokos on national and state highways demanding immediate supply of seeds.

The farmers staged rasta roko on NH-202 demanding Kanak variety of Mahyco brand cotton seeds. Farmers from 15 villages sat on the highway and shouted slogans against the agricultural and revenue officials. When they saw `no stock’ boards at the fertilizer shops, the ryots gave vent to their ire by targeting the tehsildar offices.

The enraged farmers burnt the effigy of IT minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah at Bachannapet mandal. Hundreds of farmers staged rasta roko on the highway, while TRS workers and student unions expressed solidarity with the farmers. TDP workers and cotton ryots staged protests against the official apathy at Regonda and demanded immediate distribution of the seeds.


AP farmers declare crop holiday this kharif


Mr N. Subba Rao, 73, of Achanta in West Godavari district was among the few farmers in the South who received a kit of IR-8 paddy seeds in 1967 for one acre.

He grew 40 bags that kharif, becoming a poster boy for the proponents of Green Revolution that had just begun in the country. The acreage grew to 2,000 acres in the following season, repeating the kharif performance.

This made Achanta a tourist spot for Parliament members and agriculture scientists, including those from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The then Food and Agriculture Minister, Mr C. Subramaniam, who spearheaded Green Revolution from the Government side, too was proud of this village. Seventeen-years later, the village was again in the forefront to get IR-64 that was released to mark the silver jubilee year of IRRI.


This tiny village is hitting headlines again now, ahead of the 2011 kharif season, not for reporting high yields but for declaring a crop holiday.

The apolitical Rythu Sangham, which comprises about 3,500 farmers who sow on 4,500 acres, has taken the decision after failing to get returns on their investments.

“Kharifs have become a drag on us. We have been losing all the while. We are not even getting back our investments,” Mr Subba Rao told Business Line over phone.

“Cost of cultivation has doubled from Rs 10,000 in 2005 to Rs 20,000 an acre in 2010. With no better prospect in sight, we have decided not to grow paddy this year.”

Several other villages in East and West Godavari districts have taken a cue.

Some have passed similar resolutions, forcing the Government to look into the issue.

Reports suggest that Allavaram, Uppalaguptam, Munipalli, Gopavaram and Bheemanapally in East Godavari have passed resolutions in favour of crop holiday.


With the godowns of Food Corporation India brimming with stocks, farmers in Andhra Pradesh are alleging that they are being forced to undersell their produce.

Mr P. Chengal Reddy, Secretary-General of Confederation of Indian Farmers’ Associations (CIFA), said the idea had caught the attention of farmers in all parts of the State.

“We have just heard that several villages in East Godavari have taken a similar oath. This actually reflects acute distress situation,” he said.

The CPI(M)-affiliated All-India Kisan Sabha, however, has taken a different view on the declaration of the crop holiday.

“There is no use in declaring a crop holiday. The Government announced crop holiday for tobacco but it hardly helped. The best way is to fight for remunerative prices,” said Mr Rama Rao of the sabha’s State unit.



Cotton farmers protest for MSP, 3 attempt suicide

KARIMNAGAR: Three cotton farmers attempted suicide, while hundreds of others gave vent to their ire by stoning two RTC buses and blocking traffic movement on Karimnagar-Peddapally highway on Monday. They were protesting against the government’s failure to offer minimum support price (MSP) for their crop.

The three ryots consumed pesticide in front of the market yard office, but alert cops rushed them to the hospital. They are out of danger. They said they were forced to resort to the extreme step as they were not getting a good price in the market due to trader-official nexus.

The irate farmers damaged the windowpanes of the RTC buses and squatted on the highway paralysing traffic for over three hours. They raised slogans against the government

Tension prevailed as the farmers refused to vacate the place till their demand for a higher MSP was met by the government. They contended that the traders were not buying their stocks despite a good crop this year. “Even if they are buying, the rate offered is only Rs 3,000 a quintal. We will be forced to commit mass suicides if the government does not step in,” a farmer warned.

Police finally stepped in and pacified the farmers to make way for free flow of traffic. Traffic movement was also hit on Karimnagar-Ramagundam highway due to the ryots’ stir. The ryots also staged a dharna in front the market yard, demanding an MSP of Rs 5,000 per quintal

Read more: Cotton farmers protest for MSP, 3 attempt suicide – The Times of India

Uttar Pradesh: 3 people have died in skirmishes between the police and farmers protests over the land acquisitions for the Yamuna Expressway in the state of Uttar pradesh over the past week. This is because approximately 40,000 acres of land is being acquired for the construction of an expressway between Agra and Noida. Land around the proposed expressway is also being acquired for the construction of a township and the farmers are not being adequately compensated even after slight increase in compensation from 449 to 570 Rs per sq meter and the farmers remain unsatisfied.

BKU farmers have also joined the already protesting farmers in their struggle against unfair grabbing of agricultural land. Ch Tikait [head of BKU] will be joining farmers in Tappal [in Aligarh] after a protest march from village Sisauli to Tappal. At Tappal, a kisan panchayat [farmers meeting] will be organized to plan the future course of events. BKU spokesman Yudhvir Singh said, “we are not against the construction of a highway but the construction companies are being donated land by the UP government at such a low cost not only on the highway route but also all along the sides of the highway. Farmers will get a mere 570 Rs per square meter but the Jaypee company will colonize that area by developing real  estate like farm houses, malls and condos and then selling the same land for more than 1000 times the price.” We are not talking about a couple of acres here, but more than 21% of the land in India’s largest state U.P. has already been earmarked for such projects.

So the issue is not just adequate compensation, it is as much about how the land is used. The government quietly meting out  extra chunks of fertile land to corporations for commercial construction  will be a very profitable business venture for a few at the cost of the livelihood of thousands and India’s food security itself.

Farm land grabbing is a major problem in India with the wave of land acquisitions for development such as Special Economic Zones [SEZ’z], highways and townships springing up everywhere. In a country where there is rampant hunger and unemployment, cities on the verge of explosion and a huge agricultural population the only sensible and just  thing to do is to support people who work the land and protect its productive capacity. We need to create policies that will appreciate the farmer’s  role in society as the food growers of the nation and provide them a dignified life and a decent income. What will we achieve by wasting fertile land on more malls, condo’s and disney lands?- hunger,  more farmers suicides and even more slums in the cities.

For more information of farm land grabs world wide:
News articles on the current UP Yamuna expressway issue: