Vidarbha farmers, widows to ‘mourn’ decade of BT cotton

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/03/25/236–Vidarbha-farmers-widows-to-mourn-decade-of-BT-cotton-.html

Maharashtra,Immigration/Law/Rights, Sun, 25 Mar 2012IANS

Nagpur, March 25 (IANS) Thousands of farmers and farm widows shall ‘mourn’ and protest the tenth anniversary of the introduction of US-based GM Seed’s revolutionary “BT Cotton” in the country Monday, an activist group said here Sunday.

“Tomorrow, thousands of farmers and farmland widows shall protest in various towns and villages across Vidarbha against BT Cotton, which failed in 400,000 hectares since 2005 and in 4.20 million hectares this year,” Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishor Tiwari told IANS.

The VJAS has been fighting the cause of Maharashtra farmers opposed to BT cotton, which, Tiwari claimed is the root cause of farmers’ suicides claiming over 10,000 lives so far in the state.

Farmers will gather in two of the worst suicide-prone villages – Hiwara and Bothbudan – demanding suspension of all commercial trials of BT Cotton in the dry regions of the Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra and banning GM cotton in the country.

“Vidarbha is a classic example of a wrong selection of GM technology in dry regions since BT Cotton requires proper irrigation facilities that are lacking here,” Tiwari pointed out.

When the permission was granted by India ten years ago, experimental cultivation of BT cotton was started in 10,000 hectares in different parts of the country.

“Today, it has gone to over 12 million hectares, especially after Maharashtra permitted commercial cultivation trials of BT cotton from June 2005,” said Tiwari.

He said the VJAS has demanded a special discussion by parliament on cotton farmers crises since the past ten years of BT cotton and setting up of a special parliamentary committee to inquire into the mess created by BT cotton.

In a report released Sunday, a group of NGOs under the banner of ‘Coalition for GM-free India’ has claimed that the government’s own data proved that BT cotton has resulted in stagnant yields, pest resistance and evolution of new pest and disease attacks.

“The real yield gains in the past decade, from 278 kg/hectare to 470 kg/hectare was seen between 2001-2005 when BT cotton accounted for only 5.6 percent of the total cotton cultivation area. After that, till 2012, when the BT cotton area covered 90 percent of the total cotton cultivation area, the yield noticed was 470 kg/hectare to only 481 kg/hectare,” Kiran Vissa, co-convenor of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture, said in the study report.

Documentary on Vidarbha farmers bags National award

Documentary on Vidarbha farmers bags National award-TIMES OF INDIA

NAGPUR: “If a quarter million farmers kill themselves over a span of 16 years, then it is genocide and not suicide. The globalization of economies has given rise to a new form of agrarian warfare where seeds are the new weapons.” This observation formed the basis of the documentary ‘Cotton For My Shroud’ made by Nandan Saxena and his wife Kavita Bahl.

The 90 minute film, shot in the hinterlands of Vidarbha, which have earned the infamous sobriquet of farmer’s graveyard, has won aRajat Kamal for the best investigative film at the 59th National awards announced in New Delhi on Wednesday. The film has been winning accolades since it was first released at Mumbai Film Festival in April last year, and has also received the Gold for best script at the IDPA in Mumbai in October 2011.

In a telephonic chat with TOI from New Delhi, Saxena says that he has been screening the docu-film at various forums and people have been stunned by its content. “The film is meant for both, victims as well as those who can change this dismal scenario. It is easy to blame the simple farmer for not managing his resources.” “The cotton farmer is torn between aggressive marketing of supposedly ‘better varieties’ of transgenic crops by the state, and his traditional wisdom of low-cost and eco-friendly agriculture. He thus falls prey to the honey trap of Bt. The result is in an unending cycle of debt and misery.”

Narrated in the first person, the film looks at the macro picture while following the lives of three families. Saxena says that he learnt about the plight of the farmers in Vidarbha while researching water linked projects they were handling in Rajasthan. “It was so horrible that we began looking for more information. When we called up Kishor Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which has been drawing attention to these tragedies, he told us to check it out first hand. My wife and me arrived and began moving around in Yavatmal, Raipodh, Pandharkawda and Kolijhari, which were worst hit by these tragedies.” It was not easy for the couple to win the confidence of farmers. Saxena says that the families of victims were weary of media spotlight.

“We came without booking our return tickets.We had all the time and were willing to wait. Gradually, they began to open up,” he says. The research and first hand conversations helped them put together a narrative.

“There were two triggers for the suicides. The first at the time of sowing, when the cash strapped farmer is pushed to buy seeds he can ill afford, so he takes credit. The next is at the time of harvest, when he arrives in the market and realizes that he will not get the price that will enable him to repay the loan. That’s when the desolate fellow has no option but to consume pesticide.” Saxena,who admits to leftist leanings, says that once they had put together the film it was difficult to edit it, as they had to relive these heart wrenching stories once again. “But we overcame our emotions and released it in 2011.” Awards aside, the duo feels that true recognition would be when farmers stop taking their lives and sustainable agriculture becomes a policy.

Farmers’ suicides tripled in 2011: Attention of PMO sought

Government figures of farmer suicides in Vidarbha’s agrarian crisis hit cotton belt of western districts for year 2011 has shocked the local media and civil society after a national daily reported that figures compiled by government at Yavatmal district in Maharashtra- the epicenter of the agrarian crisis.

THE SHOCKING figures completely contract earlier reports of the Government of India and Mahrashtra Government in 2011 – as suicides commited due to agrarian crisis tripled as compared to the last year.

In Yavatmal district as against in 2010 administration confirmed 35 farmer suicides due to agrarian crisis, and all are eligible for government compensation whereas in 2011, 76 suicides were declared – which is more than twice the number of suicide cases reported the last year – reflecting the seriousness of the vidarbha crisis even after a series of relief packages and the Prime Minister’s visit to Vidarbha in July 2006. 

Hence Vidarbha Janadolan Samiti (VJAS) activist group, working for farmers’ rights in the region since 1997, and demanding the complete rehabilitation of farm widows and kids of farmers families who committed suicide. The group has written a letter requesting the prime minister to provide long term solution to the crisis and integrated solution to the vidarbha agrarian crisis.

Kishor Tiwari convener of VJAS, said in a press release that due to farm crisis since 2000, 2,332 farmers have committed suicide in Yavatmal. Out of which 714 have been declared to be due to farm. Tiwari has urged the PMO to review all cases in light of the changed norms.

The Indian government claims to spent more than Rs.5,000 crore apart from Rs.70,000 crore national loan waiver, which has given additional Rs.8000 crore to the package in 2006 and 2008 but there has been no change in the agrarian economy and the rate of farm suicides in the region has exposed total failure of the Indian government to solve the agrarian crisis in dry land regions of Maharashtra.

Bt or Not to Bt? Risk and Uncertainty Considerations in Technology Assessment

http://www.igidr.ac.in/pdf/publication/WP-2012-001.pdf
Srijit Mishra & Sarthak Gaurav
IGIDR

The acreage under the transgenic Bt cotton seeds in India has risen significantly since its legalization in the year 2002. Discussions on the advantages from the technology have focused on increments in
productivity and income, without much analysis on risk. We point out that claims on productivity gains
seem to be misplaced, as appropriate counterfactuals do not exist for the same hybrids. In this article
we analyse production costs and crop incomes in drought years to test a simplistic theory of risk based
on first principles. We employ a mixed-methods framework to draw inferences by combining data from
two cross-sectional surveys in Gujarat (Saurashtra and Southern-Plains) and Maharashtra (Western
Vidarbha) for the period 2009-10 and compare it with unit-level data for the corresponding regions
from a nationally representative sample for the period 2002-03. Empirical evidence, though limited,
brings out the problem of how a high cost technology could be associated with higher risks and may be
dominated by traditional alternatives under certain conditions. Ethnographic accounts from the field
provide qualitative support to our understanding of potential risks and uncertainties associated with the
new technology.

Can we have the pesticide menu, please?

http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column_can-we-have-the-pesticide-menu-please_1634428

G Sampath | Saturday, January 7, 2012

G Sampath

I’m not very adventurous in my drinking habits. I generally stick to wine. And while I’ve had whiskey, brandy, feni, cognac, chang, gin and arrack, besides several other region and country-specific spirits and sub-spirits whose names I don’t remember now, I’d never tasted pesticide.

So when I was invited by Pesti Cola, a leading MNC pesticide manufacturer, to attend a pesticide-tasting workshop, I accepted immediately.

The venue of the workshop was a luxurious resort in the heart of Vidarbha. As you would know, pesticide is a really popular drink in these parts, and people run up huge debts to indulge their weakness for this beverage. The resort was situated in the middle of a cotton farm, where the very air was redolent with the rich aroma of freshly brewed pesticide.

I found myself at a table with five different glasses of vintage pesticides. Also present were Mr Arsenic, the COO of Pesti Cola, Mr BT Gene, COO of the agri-business giant Consanto, Mr Terminator, COO of the seed company Maha-Seedy, and Mr Squeeze, COO of Vile-Mart.

Mr Arsenic handed me a glass to taste. The label said, ‘2006 Coudoulet de Vidarbh Nitrobenzene’. It was a bright, juicy and delicious pesticide with a cyanide flavor that leaves you with a subtle aftertaste of death even after you spit it out, as I did.
“Try the 2007 Domaine de la Yavatmal Heptachlore. It’s my favourite,” said Mr Terminator, offering me the glass. “It is a well-balanced pesticide that pairs well with small loans at usurious interest rates. Farmers who don’t get a decent price for their produce love this pesticide, as it has the power to transport you to another world altogether, far away from debts and terminator seeds.”

“But you have to check out the 2008 Chateau de la Wardha Mercury Chloride,” said Mr BT Gene, handing me another glass. “From the great Chateau de la Wardha, it is a sexy, full-bodied pesticide that turns you into a body in nine seconds flat. Consanto offers a 250 ml can of this drink free with every 500 seeds of Bt Cotton.”

The COOs exchanged glances as I picked up a glass that said ‘2003 Domaine de Amaravati Nickel Chloride Vieilles.’ They looked at me expectantly as I took a sip. “This polished, mineral-driven, understated pesticide will develop even greater complexity as you gargle your mouth with it,” I said, spitting it out. “While it is not as strong as Cabernet Endosulfan Bhuldana, it is better endowed than Pinot Noire Washim Ethyl Parathion.”

But the vintage drink I really liked was the 2001 Yavatmal Chardonnay Sodium Methane Arsonate. Ripe, lush and incredibly concentrated, this limited-production pesticide, which can be consumed even if you are not a farmer, is definitely one of the best Arsenic-based drinks ever.

I asked the COO of Pesti Cola about the pesticide market in India. “Well, India is the fastest growing market,” he said. “There are 650 million farmers in India, of which only 250,000 have committed suicide till date. And of these, only 179,000 had consumed pesticide. Just imagine how many million gallons of pesticides we’d sell if we can persuade all of India’s surviving farmers to commit suicide! Obviously, we have a huge market to tap!”
“Right,” I said, spitting out a mouthful of the well-balanced and curvaceous Cabernet Kelzara Nitrofen Blanc. “But how do you ensure that the demand keeps growing?”

“What do you mean?” said Mr BT Gene. “What makes you think the demand for pesticides won’t grow?”

“Well, you know, with so many people switching to organic farming and all that — do pesticides have a future, really?”

All the COOs burst out laughing. “Are you really this naive or are you joking?” and they laughed some more when they realised I was serious. “Nobody makes pesticides for crops anymore,” explained Mr Arsenic. “It’s an open secret that they are hardly effective. Our real target is the farmer — they are the real pests, after all, don’t you agree?”

“That’s self-evident,” said Mr Squeeze, the Vile-Mart COO, who had been sitting quietly in a corner all this while. “Farmers are unnecessary middlemen between the food and the consumer. If we eliminate them, we will be able to reach the food to the consumer at a much cheaper price — that’s how Vile-Mart became the world’s largest retailer.”

“In fact, I was just telling Mr Arsenic,” said Mr Terminator, “They should launch an ad campaign, selling the concept of how pesticide IS the coolest drink for the Indian farmer. You have Coke and Pepsi for urban India, and Pesti for rural India — that should be the brand positioning.”

“We’re working on it,” said Mr Arsenic. “We want to raise awareness on this issue. People wrongly assume that you have to be a farmer to commit suicide by drinking pesticide. We want to make pesticide the top-of-mind option for anyone contemplating suicide. Hopefully, in the years to come, even bureaucrats, politicians and CEOs will want to commit suicide by drinking pesticide. But for now, we’re happy to focus on farmers.”

The COOs decided to raise a toast. “To the great Indian farmer,” we said, clinking our glasses.

Agriculture, food security and nutrition in Vidarbha: Household level analysis – A special article in EPW


By Amita Bhaduri, India Water Portal

This special article in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) is based on an assessment of agricultural practices and livelihoods of people in Vidarbha, one of the most distressed regions in India. Using the data generated from a baseline survey on a sample of 6,990 households covering six districts, this paper attempts to assess the relationships between agriculture, food security and nutrition for children, adolescents and married women of reproductive age.

The study indicates that
  • Overall under-nutrition amongst children, adolescents and married women in the study area is substantial and it does not differ significantly between different socio-economic groups. Severe under-nutrition amongst all the groups is only moderate.
  • Households with large cultivated holding (medium and large farmers with more than 10 acres) are no better than households with small or marginal cultivated holding or even landless households in containing under-nutrition among children, adolescents and ever married women.
  • Religion and caste-class also do not show any relationship with nutritional status of children. Per capita income of households shows the same pattern of relationship with nutritional status.
  • A consistent relationship was observed between the per capita expenditure on food items and the nutritional status of children, adolescents and ever married women. The relationship is that other things being equal, the higher the expenditure on food items, lower the proportion of children, adolescents and ever married women undernourished.
  • The public distribution system contributes significantly to the food security of poor families and it must be extended to include families above the poverty line as well.
  • With respect to the relationship between agriculture and nutrition the data indicates that the higher the food crop production, lower the under-nutrition. It must be noted, that food crop diversity is very limited and is confined to a small proportion of farmers. A large proportion of farmers opting for commercial (cash) crops instead of food crops but still facing malnutrition implies that this visible change in agricultural patterns as such cannot be taken as an indicator of better nutritional status of household members.
  • It also indicates a need for greater research on the role of whether the adoption of food crops in areas facing nutrition problems is advisable, how price effects in production and consumption are affected by changing agricultural patterns.
  • There is also a need to interrogate whether increased production of food crops at the local level will mitigate price effects, and whether this will in turn benefit the general populace.
  • Finally, a gendered analysis of access to productive resources, decision-making powers and intra-household allocation of work responsibilities is also needed to draw clearer linkages.

Download the paper here –

Vidharba: Farmers get Rs 2k-cr aid package

NAGPUR: Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday announced a Rs 2,000 crore relief package for farmers growing cotton, soyabean and paddy. He claimed the compensation was highest in the state’s history and unprecedented for Vidarbha farmers. However, the Opposition rejected the package, saying it was too little too late.

Over 85 lakh farmers of Vidarbha, Marathwada and northern Maharashtra have been in crisis for over two months. They had hoped to get at least Rs 5,000 a hectare. But the relief announced by the CM may be about Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 a hectare for cotton and even less for soya and paddy growers.

After discussions with political parties, farmers, NGOs and department officials, the relief amount was fixed, said Chavan. He announced short and long-term measures in the package, including weather-based crop insurance schemes, availing of big ticket loans from Asian Development Bank to speed up irrigation projects, setting up of an expert panel to suggest reduction of expenses in dry land farming situation.

“This is the biggest aid package for particular categories of farmers. Last year, we had announced a Rs 1,000 crore package for farmers all over Maharashtra. This package would benefit farmers in Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra,” Chavan told the House. He agreed to members’ demand of reconstituting the State Agriculture Pricing Commission.

In the Upper House, Opposition members staged a walkout over the “meagre” compensation (they claimed it would work out to less than Rs 1,000 an acre) and failure to spell out details. The Opposition warned they wouldn’t allow the House to function till the government provides justice to farmers in the region. After the CM’s speech, members from the Shiv Sena and ruling party almost came to blows. Sena MLC Diwakar Raote and Congress MLC S Q Zama abused each other. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar allowed members of the Opposition to speak on the issue.

The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti called the government’s package paltry. “It is like handing out alms. Vidarbha farmers will not tolerate such an insult,” VJAS president Kishore Tiwari said.

Chavan said there are about 1.5 crore farmers in the state, of whom 70 lakh need help. “Cotton growers need help. With packages from the PM and state, the number of suicides has come down,” he said.

Taking a dig at the Opposition for accusing the government of favouring sugarcane farmers, the CM said sugarcane earned huge tax revenue. “We provided Rs 122 crore to them this year and last year, it was Rs 470 crore. The state was richer by Rs 3,000 crore in the form of Customs and excise duties on the byproducts of sugarcane,” he said.

Disappointed with farmer’s Package 4 more vidarbha killed themselves :farm widows blockade NationalHighway protesting the relief package

Nagpur-15th dcmber2011

The shocks of rejection of farmers main demand to give hike to support price in cotton ,soya and paddy has reported four suicides in vidarbha ,identified as

1.Ankush Raut of Wadki in Yavatmal

2Ashok Bhongale of Bhamada in Yavatmal

3.Ramrao Kamble of Gaul in Wardha

4.Shayram Thege of Kesarwada in Bhandara

As per media reports published here taking toll to 722 in year 2011 alone,Kishor Tiwari, president of Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), activist group working for cotton farmer rights in a Press release today.

Most of major cotton centre town are completely closed to support ‘Bandh’ called giving by opposition parties and hundreds of farm widows blockade N.H. Tuljaput –Nagpur highway at Arjuna 160 k.m. away from Nagpur .there are violent protest of farmers reported all round vidarbha .farmers of vidarbha region are demanding hike in cotton procurement price to @ Rs.6000/- in order to compensate the losses incurred by them and cash compensation @ Rs.20,000 per hector but state has announced Rs.2000 crore for nearly 90 lakh hector which will peanut hence there is demand to revised the relief package ,tiwari added.

Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), has welcomed initiative taken by Maharashtra DF Govt. to appoint committee to sort out issue of dry land farmers which are victims of Agrarian crisis and needs income base incentive to stop their on going suicides and such steps are must and should taken without delay,Tiwari said

Maharashtra DF Govt. today most waited announcement of giving Rs.2000 crore relief package for 40 lakhs hector crop loss compensation is another eyewash as earlier vidarbha farmer packages of year 2005 and 2006 has dashed hopes of more than 5 million farmers who are facing severe economical crisis due to massive crop failure who are demanding the bailout package and hike in MSP of cotton ,soybean and paddy as this will trigger another spiral of farmer suicides having failed to address the basic issue of price and future sustainability of dying agrarian community ,Kishor Tiwari, president of Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), activist group working for cotton farmer rights in a Press release today.

‘It was most expected that after CM indicated earlier that bankrupt financial condition of Maharashtra can’t even give Rs.1000/- per hector to 5 millions farmers against the demand of Rs.10,000/- and the cotton farmers of western vidarbha will get nothing as administration has shown minimum crop failure in this region and now out 70 lakh hector area under cultivation of cotton, soya and paddy whop will get what that god know?. Farmers and all parties including congress NCP that MRP hike in cotton ,soya and paddy and cash compensation in line with sugarcane growers of western Maharashtra but once again Govt. has mad mockery of agrarian crisis and announced such penny relief which is nothing but hoax’Tiwari added.

‘we are demanding long term solution to agrarian crisis not any package which are mostly contractor driven and designed to rehabilitation of the ill managed politician runs cooperative banks. our farmers are working for handful MNCs who are manufacturing Gm seed, fertilizer and pesticides and revival of own agriculture is must which is not being done ’ Tiwari said.

The vidarbha agrarian is result of wrong policies promoted by state and situation of cotton growers in west Vidarbha has worsened when ban of cotton export imposed last year and massive crop failure this year .

“There is a need for state government’s intervention in this regard. The government should provide at least Rs 6,000 per quintal. The chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had promised that he would talk with the union government for better support price for the raw cotton. However, nothing has been done in this regard,” Tiwari alleged.

Tiwari continued, “The government did not concede our demand of providing food security to desperate, distressed and marginal farmers even. The government needs to behave sensibly and responsibly to address farmers’ woes and prevent the prevailing spate of suicide in the killing fields of Vidarbha.” If the cotton growers do not get better price this season, the situation will assume drastic proportions, he cautioned.

VJAS has urged Govt. of India to send team of expert to assess the Bt. Cotton crop damage in Maharashtra and west vidarbha in particular where cotton farmers are killing themselves .VJAS has been demanding hike in cotton MSP Rs.6000/- per quintal and relief package to dying cotton farmers of region, Tiwari added.

11 more Vidarbha Farmers Suicides reported in December

11 more Vidarbha Farmers Suicides reported in December: Farmers Demands Policy Driven Relief Package not ‘Contractor or Bank Driven’

Nagpur -12th December ,2011
The suicide spiral of debt trapped vidarbha farmer who are deep grip of agrarian crisis since 2005 due successive crop failure and volatile market prices of cotton has added 11 more victims as these 11 farmers suicides cases surfaced in first 10days of December 2011 when they failed to get any rlief from state due to technical hurdles created by state election which has administration to announce any relief to 5 million dying farmers of Maharashtra on the pretext of so called code of conduct enforced due on going local body election Maharashtra taking toll to 715 in year 2011, ill feted farmers are
1.Mahadev Sapkal of Talked in Buldhana
2.Bhimrao Kulsange of Dhanoliin wardha
3.Bhattu Padalwar of Itgoan in bhandara
4.Shankar Katkar of Dadhipidhiin amaravati
5.Bhagwan Meshram of Kelzarain yavamal
6.Gajanan Bhongale of Belora in yaatmal
7.Balabhau Rathode of Uamardari in washiml
8.Kishor Talmale of Umaripathar in Yavatmal
9.Sanddep Khadase of Kkolpakhindi in Yavatmal
10.Tukaram Satpute of Kenwadin washim
11.Devidas Sarodkar of Thad in Buldhana
Kishor Tiwari, president of Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), activist group working for cotton farmer rights who are documenting these farm suicides since 1997 informed in a Press release today.
‘we are demanding long term solution to agrarian crisis not any package which are mostly contractor driven and designed to rehabilitation of the ill managed politician runs cooperative banks. our farmers are working for handful MNCs who are manufacturing Gm seed, fertilizer and pesticides and revival od own agriculture is mustwhich is not being done ’ Tiwari said.
The vidarbha agrarian is result of wrong policies promoted by state and situation of cotton growers in west Vidarbha has worsened when ban of cotton export imposed last year and massive crop failure this year .
“There is a need for state government’s intervention in this regard. The government should provide at least Rs 6,000 per quintal. The chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had promised that he would talk with the union government for better support price for the raw cotton. However, nothing has been done in this regard,” Tiwari alleged.
Tiwari continued, “The government did not concede our demand of providing food security to desperate, distressed and marginal farmers even. The government needs to behave sensibly and responsibly to address farmers’ woes and prevent the prevailing spate of suicide in the killing fields of Vidarbha.” If the cotton growers do not get better price this season, the situation will assume drastic proportions, he cautioned.
VJAS has urged Govt. of India to send team of expert to assess the Bt. Cotton crop damage in Maharashtra and west vidarbha in particular where cotton farmers are killing themselves ।VJAS has been demanding hike in cotton MSP Rs.6000/- per quintal and relief package to dying cotton farmers of region, Tiwari added.

Cotton MSP, farmers’ suicides likely to dominate Maha session

PTI | 01:12 PM,Dec 11,2011

Nagpur, Dec 11 (PTI) The ongoing demand and agitation by farmers over hike in MSP for cotton and unabated suicides by farmers in Vidarbha region are likely to dominate the proceedings of the Winter Session of the Maharashtra Legislature, beginning in the vice capital here from tomorrow. Though the Congress-led Democratic Front (DF) government, citing the code of conduct in place for the municipal council elections, has not increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for cotton but has indicated to provide some relief by announcing financial assistance to the cotton growers from Vidarbha, Khandesh and Marathwada regions per hectare. Shiv Sena launched statewide agitation for better prices to the produce and its executive president Uddhav Thackeray had led the agitation in Vidarbha. Though Congress leaders, a majority of them cotton growers, have also mounted pressure on the ruling alliance but are waiting anxiously to hear from the Government on the floor of the House on the hike in MSP. BJP, along with Shetkari Sanghatana, is also on the warpath over the issue. Uddhav even announced that all Sena floor leaders will boycott the customary Tea party to be hosted by chief minister on the eve of commencement of the session. The issue of unabated suicides by farmers in Vidarbha region is also likely to haunt the government again. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), working for the cause of farmers, led by Kishore Tiwari has sought appointment with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and has even met other central leaders to press for the demands including hike in cotton. The VJAS has contended that crop failure and inadequate price to the produce are pushing farmers to take the extreme step.