Tuesday, April 1, 2008

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God save the farmers

God save the farmers
Sahara Times

An agri-rally undertaken by a group of social workers reveals the pathetic condition of farmers across the country
By Amitabh Srivastava / Dehradun
After traversing across ten states on a bicycle to have a first hand experience of the plight of farmers, Anil Prakash Joshi says, “The experience has convinced us that there is God somewhere. Had God not existed, the figure of farmers suicides in the country would have been much more higher than the toll of 40,000 or 50,000 mortality that we hear.”A noted scientist and social activist, Padmshree Joshi is not new to such voyages. Under the aegis of an NGO, Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO), he had undertaken various journeys and led agitations for the right to water and the gharat owners in the country.On January 12 this year, he along with an eleven-member team that included members from 18 to 80 year olds, he launched a bicycle yatra from Kanyakumari to Dehradun. It covered Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi before reaching to Uttarakhand on March l6.Talking to Sahara Time Joshi said: “We had a very tough tour. Eating habits of every state is different and so is the quality of water. Many of us faced problems such as diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomachs. We had to seek help from doctors at several places but let me tell you it was an eye opening experience. The condition of farmers in almost every states from north to south is alarming and it is a matter of shame because we are an agriculture economy.”Fast depleting farm lands and lack of interest among children of farmers in their ancestral means of livelihood is going to create an alarming situation in the coming years, he said. “There are villages in Tamil Nadu where farmers would prefer to keep their daughters unmarried rather than giving them away to children of farmers,” he said.He says, “The economic development of the country has been largely in industrial, civil and construction sectors. In the agriculture sector and for the farmers, the development has been lop-sided. In India, marginal farmers are not represented in the GDP and there is fear that they will not be represented in future too. The reported economic gains of the country are not reaching to most of the farmers of India.” But the irony is that rural India has become the biggest market for the urban products even though the materials for these products come from the rural India. Due to aggressive marketing strategies and better-equipped urban population, these products are marketed throughout rural India, the largest market for industrialists. Slow invasion of Industrialists in retail market of fresh products is the proof that farm produce is highest in demand in the country.A strong advocate of participation of all stake holders in the development process. Joshi says, “The present SEZ approach will create a deepening economic imbalance. The SEZ policy must seriously review the matter on common interest plan where immediate and long-term interest of both farmers and industrialists are taken care of. There should be clear shareholding of farmers in a given SEZ. He should not become loser of his land merely for some present monetary benefit but his long-term association with SEZ should guard his future generations. Since these SEZ are coming up in almost all states of the country, landless farmers must be involved in this process to check the migration which otherwise has begun to take political dissension in many states.”The Agri Yatra (bicycle yatra) covered around 3,800 kms across 65 districts and about 7,000 villages. His team comprised social activists, students and farmers from 18 to 60 years that met over one lakh farmers during the journey. One common refrain of the HESCO team in its various interaction with farmers was that the government had to enact a Forest Act to protect the forest and wild life. It is the time for passing an Agriculture Act to save farmers and agriculture produce. Asked about the loan waiver announced by the UPA government, Joshi said, “Any relief given to farmers to save their lives is welcome. But most of the farmers have bad experiences with banks and are very unhappy. Small and marginal farmers who really need the money do not qualify to get the loan according to the criteria set by them. The banks are using the money given by us to create more imbalances and discrimination. I have been suggesting both to the government and asking farmers to raise their voice to demand a kind of rural bank system. The banks should become stakeholders along with the farmers. I feel that the banks should not ask farmers to pay back the money but they should get their money by selling his crops when they are ready.”“The lop sided policies of the government towards agriculture, 60 years after Independence has led to a situation where hardly any farmers’ children wanted to take up farming as a livelihood. To solve this problem, farmers recommended that there should be a provision to provide education on agriculture at the school level between Classes VIII and XII,” said JoshiIn most families it is the women who are maintaining the tradition and profession of farming. The men folk and children are getting disillusioned and looking at other options particularly white-collar jobs, the team said.

Dated:3/28/2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dr.Joshi and cycle yatra team with Shri.Sundarlal Bahuguna
The Agri march which started on 12th January 2008 came to an end when it reached Dehradun on 16th March 2008 .The team was recieved at the Press club ,Dehradun by noted environmentalist Shri Sundarlal Bahuguna along with huge number of farmers, public and people from press.The yatra team members shared the stories of their experience.Addressing to the gathering. Team Leader Dr.Joshi urged everyone to think seriously on the issue of farmers and farming .He again talked about the subject that needs a serious thought.Like:
#Redefine "farmer"-Big farmers can be called as Businessman as their condition is very different from the small and marginal farmer.
# An agri act must come in order to stop the diversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.
#Agri education should be part of school curriculum
#Role of bank - Redefine
Also seen that cultivation of staple food is being replaced by cash crops.The diversion of agricultural land (which in any case is limited) to commercial farming and even industries, is further limiting ability to grow enough foodgrains. "Contract farming" is being encouraged thereby opening new avenue of exploitation of farmers. What has not been understood is that any tinkering with the agriculture sector that encourages farmers to abandon their land and move on to cities in search of a livelihood is sure to lead the country into a dark abyss.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Herbs healing FARMERS in Doiwala

Farmers, in Uttarakhand, have over the years brought more and more land under the plough for the production of cash crops like sugarcane, relatively more profitable. Area under cultivation of rice, particularly Basmati, has thus shrunk. In the year 1997-98 /40703 Hectare area was under sugarcane and total produce was 2537913 Quintal. Average production is 623.52 Quintal per Hectare. In the Udhamsingh Nagar district there are six sugar factories in Jaspur, Kashipur, Bazpur, Gadarpur , Kichha , and Sitarganj . These sugar factories consume sugarcane from neighbouring districts Bijnour , Rampur Bareilly and Pilibhit. To help the sugarcane farmers the cane department has six cane committee in Kashipur , Bazpur , Gadapur, Kichha , Pantnagar . A cane committee is there in Nadehi sugar mill.


Today more and more farmers are leaving sugarcane for other crops .The price for the crop has dropped considerably in recent time .The price of Sugarcane in Uttarakhand in between Rs.120-125/quintal. In UP, the rate has were not declared. Farmers are complaining, as they have not been paid for the last lot.

In Doiwala, Dehradun farmers have found a better option. According to Gurdeep Singh , a farmer ,there is mill in the area where farmers of the village used to sell the cane .The same mill consumed sugarcane from nearby regions as well. The sugar mill was a Pvt.Mill and was establised in year 1950-51.It became a Government enterprise in year 1998.

In year 1990, a company called ‘Flax Food Company’ came to the village and motivated villagers to produce different vegetable and plants. The farmers tried their hands on it. In the beginning mushroom and strawberry along with vegetables like Broccoli was cultivated and supplied to the company. Slowly company asked them to grow herbs. Common herbs grown are:
1. Parsley
Carum petroselinum
Family: Umbelliferae
2. Dill
Anethum graveolens
Family: Umbelliferae
3. Basil
Ocimum basilicum
Family: Lamiaceae
when the company approached farmers only 20 farmers agreed . Two-acre land was under herb cultivation at that time. Today the land area under cultivation has increased to eight acre and a total of 200 framers are involved in it.
The company guides farmers for cultivation . There are strict instructions on the percentage, type and time of the fertilizers to be used. Farmers follow the instructions and sell the produce to them. The company pays directly. Usually a single crop is cut thrice .The production is around 500 kg /bigha that means on an average from a single crop the farmer produces 1600 kg /bigha in a year. The produce is sold at the rate of Rs.6/kg. This company has a consumption capacity of 5000 tonnes and it exports the processed products to countries like England, Germany, and Denmark .
Though the rate at which the company sells the products is not disclosed to the farmers, they are still happy as their economic condition that has improved remarkably. Gurdeep Singh also pointed out that herbs need more care and attention and this requires extra labours as well. This has improved the condition of the labour class as well. He also felt the rate should be reviewed from time to time.

The company at the same time provides farmers with manure, pesticide etc .It is however not compulsory to buy from the company only. Farmers however prefer company’s product as they are more reliable and at reasonable rate as compered to public services.

The sugarcane has suffered a lot as the whole belt, at one point of time, produced sugarcane. This includes: Shyampur, Satyanarayan, Panchwani, Chhidrawala, Kanwali, Vikasnagar. Today area under sugar cultivation is either lost completely or has decreased considerably .The farmers fear that in the present condition the sugar mill in the region will not sustain for long.

This story was an excellent example of the direct relationship between farmer and industry. Paying fairly good price to the farmers for their produce serves their purposes and is beneficial to the industry as well. But still a partnership with the industry will secure the future in better way.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Farmers cheated in the long Profit chain

The price of all the products have risen in the past years .The farm input cost has also risen sharply. But the price that a farmer gets for a crop is still the same . For e.g. the cost of soybean oil has increased from Rs.25 to Rs.50 in last ten years but farmers are paid for soybean at the same price of Rs.900 per quintal since beginning.
Secondly a farmer never gets the right share of profit .A quintal of wheat for example is fixed at the price of Rs.1100.A farmer sells wheat trader or middle man or mill owners ,at the rate of Rs.600-700 per quintal because the middleman pays him right away.The middle man sells it at the fixed rate of Rs.1100 there by earning major profit straight away. At the same time,mill owners on the other hand produce the following products from a quintal of wheat:
Suji 10 kg @Rs. 20=Rs.200
Maida 10 kg @Rs. 20=Rs.200
Aata 70 kg @Rs. 12=Rs.840
Choker 10 kg @Rs. 10=Rs.100
Total earning =Rs.1340

Similarly Mustard has a fixed price of Rs.3100/quintal.Farmer is paid it at the rate of Rs.1500 by middleman.Trader sells it at Rs.3100.Out of one quintal, the following products are made by processing mills:
Mustard oil 45 kg @Rs.70=Rs.3150
Khali 55 kg@Rs.7=Rs.385
Total profit==Rs.3535

The story is same for other crop produce and processed forms.Why cant a farmer get a share in this profit chain?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rajasthan to Dhaulpur-Story of cold storages

A large number of agri products go waste due to absence of proper storage facilities especially the perishable items like fruits, vegetables, fish/sea food. There is high shortage of storage facility in the country. Especially at the places where there is comparatively high productivity –For e.g. rich agriculture or fruit belt. Often a huge quantity of he produce perishes in the absence of preservation. Especially for the small and marginal farmers who first of all do not find the storage facility and secondly even if they find it they often end up spending a lot of money. From Rajasthan to Dhaulpur, the story of the storage facility reveals the same fact .It was found that this belt produces potatoes in huge quantity. The farmers have to go to the nearest cold storages for making arrangements for off seasonal sale. The team visited the two cold storages. One Mr.Mittal’s, Eye specialist in the region and the other one of Mr. Jagan’s who is a local MLA.
The team was amazed to see kilometer long queue of tractors loaded with mainly potatoes .All waiting for the storage to open. The farmers usually stay there day and night because the space is limited and there is no other storage facility in the region. Farmers on the way were waiting for last 7 days. But storage did not open .It was however opened for the big farmers.
There is again a plot against farmers here .The storage owner buys each bag of potato at the rate of Rs.40/quintal from the big farmer and charges Rs.50 from small farmers. There are usually 120 bags in one tractor. There is no law that under which storages operate here. The owners fix the price. The tractor is hired by the farmers at the rate of Rs500 /day. Apart from this the storage owners sell their own bags to farmers with a price of Rs.16 per bag. The owners do not entertain any farmer until and unless the produce is filled in their own bags. That is an added burden on the farmers’ .In their long wait, the potato or any other produce, often gets dried up or spoiled. There is no control of the government on storage operations in the area, so the owner can refuse the farmer or adjust the price according to its convenience. Here the farmers sell its produce at the rate of Rs80-100/quintal, and if he opts for the second option and goes to Mandi he gets Rs.60-80 for the same quantity. So in both cases the farmer is at loss. In the storage, when a farmer goes to collect its material the owners return the spoilt one and are not responsible for the spoilage of any sort. If the storage is being used for a longer period the farmer has to pay a certain amount of interest to the owner.

This is clearly a form of ‘Exploitation’

On this, the owners store their own commodity and give spare space to farmers on their own price. Usually the price is not fixed and the owner is the sole authority as far as price fixing is concerned.
The farmer in short has no place to go.

Thursday, March 6, 2008






Water scarcity is often the reason for conflict among different communities .

The yatra team ,after a series of meetings and discussions with local communties found that a proper management of water is urgently required.The team witnessed many traditional systems of water conservation.Growing needs , and depleting water resources both call for local water management.
In Andhra pradesh and Tamilnadu the local community is using local water bodies for irrigation and other purposes.They used to have ponds , through which the rain water is conserved and havested.

Andhra Pradesh was known for its traditional water bodies at one point of time .Today large number of such bodies have vanished .
In Adilabad district there were at least 350 ponds but today only 10 are left.The water bodies are managed by the local people only.
Village Etchora in Adilabad have the total supply of water through ponds . No pump or machinery is used.The ponds catered needs of the vilage.Another important thing that was noticed was traditionally 10% of the total produce of the village was used for the to maintenance school and other community institutions.There was a “community system”.Later when Britishers entered the village and introduced the Patta system.This broke the community system of the village.

Similarly in Mysore there were around 50,000 small and big ponds.The community in the District still believe in the tarditional system and at one of the village the villagers were digging the pond with the help of cattle and it was also decided whosover from the village goes to the site should dig it .A community approach was seen here.Moeover there was a concept of plantation around such water bodies “Nirmal Shrubs” as they are called were palnted around, so as keep the surrounding clean.

At another place a chain of ponds was catering the local water needs.The ponds were made in way that, allows excess water from one pond to flow naturally through a trench into the next one . Thus, rainwater flows horizontally, at lower velocity, with minimum degradation of silt.

Yatra team found that Andhra Pradesh and Tamil nadu has impressive local water harvesting systems. When the country is facing water crisis and it is only going to worsen in future, an initiative to conserve and harvest water by traditional methods can be a good and a sustainable solution.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Brick making in agricultural fields..More and more farmers in MP are turning to brick making.The reason?Not enough water for irrigation and the agri produce do not fetch enough money .






The food is fallng short for the uncontrolable and ever increasing population of the country .As far as food is concerned the rich is getting whatever he can think of whereas the deprived community is still restricted to simple Dal –Roti .The condition of both farmer and farming is alarmingly unhealthy. The growing agrarian crisis is giving a clear signal of the food scarcity in the days to come. A major portion of the population in the underdeveloped nations is mal nourished. Especially the children aged 5 years or less. In fact their nutritional levels are shamelessly comparable to children in Eithopia. Human development report 2007-08 predicts worse situation in the time to come. According to this report climate change is impacting one in nineteen people in developing nations and only one in 1500 people in developed world .The nation which claims to have an economic boom with a pretty good, organized and stable political situation there are still people who sleep without food, die of starvation and children are mal nourished .It is just not sad but unfortunate.

Climate change is going to reduce the agriculture up to 40% and it will lead to less food and growing resentment among the deprived section of the society .The resentment often leads to what we term as ‘Terrorism or naxalism’. A deprived person will have no choice but to snatch things from the so called rich section of the society. Taking example of water ,nobody thought that a day will come when it will sold .Today we have packaged water and what not .If this can happen with water why cant it happen with food. We already have a number of packaged food in the market and cost is going to rise in future.

Thus,there is an urgent need to re launch agriculture and revive the policies so that it addresses to the growing needs of the country. One important thing is to take the climatic advantage and go for ecological farming.

Agriculture Education : Social Respect

"Agriculture should be included in the school curriculum"-this has been felt by a number of people that yatris have interacted with on the way.It is a general opinion that if agriculture is introduced to the farmers in the early stage it will develop their interest in the subject. Especially the student s who come from agriculture families will venture into the field with greater confidence of making it big with their expertise and knowledge .
Today the farmer do not want his kids to continue farming as it doesnt fetch good money.Most of them also feel that in this Agrarian country farmers are not respected and are among the ones who are ignored the most.
At some places teh situation is worst .The social impact of the agarian crises can be very well explained by this fact that the farmers are not getting brides because no one wants to marry a farmer who is poor, debt ridden and doesnot own land.This was a serious issue in Tamilnadu.

A Journey Tough – Tougher




As the yatra is in Dhoulpur today ,all charged up and with so much to share .The journey has not been very easy (as expected) but team managed it all and supported each other well.The weather, winds ,all came on one side to make the route more difficult.The elevation through out made things little problematical .The yatris had slogans like Ghat started and Ghat ended that they used to tell the fellow men know that here comes elevation and 'Thank god the elevation is over' And there were more than 100 such ghats. Another problem was water.Few members of the team including the leader Dr.Joshi ,fell ill with Diarrhoea.The water consumed from different sources caused this .DrJoshi fell ill for about a week but that didnot deter him or other yatris from continuing the march.Dehydration was another problem faced by the yatris as the hot weather persisted throughout the route.




The team depended least on the organisers as they arranged for their stay themselves.As far as the food was concerned the yatri's collected the ration from the community on the way .What ever they could get they cooked themselves.Though organisers were always a support but the team was managing by its own.


..

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Serious discussion
Pledges all along...

The cycle Yatra that started for the cause of Indian farmers is reaching Rajasthan tomorrow.The yatris are more than just content about the journey so far.The experience and exposure that they have got is what they could have only imagined.Every yatri now has a very clear picture of the problems that the country is facing today .Here is one liners rom each member of this Yatra:



Madan pal,farmer:"If Government can ignore the people living around roads and highways ,what about others."The access to interior parts is important here.



Anil Joshi,Leader of te Yatra:"We must thank God that every farmer in the country does not commit suicide otherwise they will not have a breathing space. "There is still a lot that can be done to improve the condition of farming and farmers in the country.



Manmohan Singh Negi:"In the states that the Yatra has covered so far it is seen that In Tamilnadu there is maximum dependence on the Government .Other states are still making a lot of local efforts to solve their problems. "It again proves the importance of local solutions,that are more sustainable and also reliable.



Prem dutt Mamgai:"Several factors of mixed nature are responsble for the decline in interest in agriculture.It is for our own interest that we tried to study the climate change impact and other factors because at the end of the day everyone needs the food to eat."



Tanuja Nainwal:"Poor farming returns are borne more by the woman.Even if the farmer kills himself it is the woman who is left to look after the family, pay the debt and get food. "



Nisha Rathore:"Women's contribution in agriculture is grossly underestimated.We all know that her contribution is not less than 60% in farming but still they are least acknwledged for it.Again a Mans World."



Dayaram Nautiyal:"Rapid repalcement of local seeds with hybrid varieties is leading to many problems, the most important is that farmer is losing its control over the seeds."



Meeta Kukreti:"Agricuture should be taught from early stages .This will be extremely beneficial to students coming from families with agriculture as the main occupation."



Hanif Gandhi:"Language is a big barrier in disemmination of the knowledge."



Dwarika Semwal:"If the things go on like this soon the farming will be taken over by industrial houses and contract farming will emerge in a big way."



Anand Negi:"It is sad and unfortunate that no local produce is sold in the local market of the villages covered by the yatra so far.The rural area has become the biggest market for the urban products and this way the dependency on urban area for every need is increasing day by day."



The land of farmer is going away in one way or another .As stated by Sunnaswamy of village Gundal Patti , district Adilabad,Karnataka "Government comes and takes the land for highway,road ,railway or industries and we are hardly given any choice.We do not know where to go .Some times we think that the independence has brought nothing for us.Our condition is still same. Infact Britishers never snatched the land from farmers.We still do not feel that we have got the freedom we are still being ruled, the only difference is that earlier the Britishers ruled over us and now our own fellow man rule over us."


Issues related to agriculture in India

Many new and diverse issues came into picture as the yatra proceeded from one state to another.On the basis of it some suggestions came from Yatris like:

Agriculture may be included in the course curriculum of at least secondary school levelling in all states.

In India more than than 65% of the population depends on agriculture.Hence, agriculture may be given a industrial status and therefore adequate budgetary allocation are needed for its developments .The current budget has taken into consideration a bit of it but still lot still needs to be done.

Population growth in rural areas (>4%) is much higher than the national average (<2%).poor health and education system is the major cause for this imbalance .To reduce its dependency on agriculture and further division of land holding ,population management in rural areas should be one of the top priorities.Hence, its popuation policy should be the integral part of agriculture as a more respectable profession.

Rural infrastructure like all weather road , assured electricity and irrigation facility backed with proper marketing avenues for agriculture input and output will go a long way in addressing its concerns of declining profitability in agriculture and to make agriculture as a more respectable profession .

Agro based industries should essentially be set up near rural areas and they can be located on the wasteland sites or land with poor fertility .This will have a multiplier ffects on rural development and checking in rural migration.

Rural bank/credit needs more reforms so that the system becomes more farmer friendly.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Police out to help Yatris...


Police ....a friend!!

From Kanya kumari till MP the yatris are talking of their experiences.After covering a distance of 2850 km ,interacted with 17000 farmers in 13010 meetings in 1410 villages of 46 districts they are full of stories to share .Once they were crossing cycling along highway in Andhra pradesh a policeman stopped the group .Little scared by this as team thought police means Trouble! After enquiring about where the group was coming from ..thepoliceman got to know the reason behind the yatra and issues that were being raised by the yatris.Impressed by it the Policeman donated a little amount and sponsered the breakfast as well before bidding luck all the yatris!
At another place in Tamilnadu one more policeman arranged Lunch and Press Conference for Yatris .Unlike in the normal routine in which public does not share a comfortable space with police ,these incidents have changed their views that police indeed is a friend ...

Water -issue of great concern


Place:Panihar,MP

This is a very popular block known for Peas. Agriculture is the mainsaty of the peope there and because of very fertile soil and available water in the region farmers were getting good reurns .It was termed as 'Small Punjab' because of high productivity of the farm produce.The market was available for the produce so farmers were satisfied and assured that their produce will be sold completely.Mother Diary being one of the main buyers of peas etc.It used to collect at least 20 trucks of peas daily from that block.But the situation has changed now.The collection has resticted to just one truck now.Reason??The productivity has come down due to water scarcity in the region.The available sources are shrinking due to increaed pressure and lack of conservation efforts. Villagers had asked Government to take this into consideration.The officials made fewcheck dams against farmer's will who wanted ponds to be made at higher elevation.The check dams didnot prove very effective.The villagers still want ponds to be made at higher elevation so that the rain water can be harvested .This was the traditional way of water harvesting in region which is losing its existence now.It is going to worth at least Rs.2 Cr. but will benefit at least 30-40 villages in the area.Goverenment has agreed on that but not acted.


The village is losing its identity !


However the lone waive off budget was welcomed by the farmers and they thought this will bring some relief f to the small and marginal farmers but still this was just a relief measures and not a solution . It is important that the reasons or factors need to be identified that make a farmer apply everytime for the loan and his inabilities to pay it back. This should be the first step to find the solution.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Damn the dam!!

Where is the water...!!
Farmers switching to brick making

The Sagar dam in the region came into existence 20 years ago but the farmers in the nearby regions are crying loud for water.The dam has not catered the needs of poor farmers in the region. I is the big farmers who have been benefited.The small farmers have yet again fallen prey to the big dam projects supposedly brining lot of economic empowerment to the local people.The local people , most of the being farmers asked Government to make a canal so that they can also make use of dam water for their thirsty land.It has been years and nothing has been done in this regard.Instead, the dam water is surely being used by one fertilser plant in close vicinty.

The agriculture has suffered in the region due to water shortage .Most of the farmers have lost the hope now have switched to new job of Brick Making.When one visit the region a piles of bicks can be seen in the fields that at one time produced food.

The Yatra team in MP




Indian farmer ..


At fiftieth days the Yatra team is exploring Madhya Pradesh at the moment. In Madhya Pradseh the team has so far covered a distance of 610 km,covering 3600 farmers of 206 villages in 8 districts.There have been more than 210 meetings.The huge number of farmers have received the yatra and discussed the issues of their concern. The isssues included the problem of debt and credit system.They felt the loans or credit are a big problem especially with he small and marginal farmers.At some places Government had waived off the entire debt of the farmers in cases where it was seen that the frmer cannot pay it back.But there are several others who are in serious crises due to their inability to pay the money back.Now they are not paying the money at all in the hope that Govrnment will wave off their debt as well.These are mostly the small and marginal farmers in the region.With the new budget coming in with the announcement to waive off the debt of small and marginal farmers , this has surely given a sigh of relief to all those who have been living in the agony of huge debt and the consequences in case of non-payment.

In a village of Guna district, the political parties promised to give farmers an exemption from the electricity bill in case their party wins . Majority of the farmes voted for the party.But after the party won at the state level , as usual the promise made by the party was broken and the farmers in the villgers got the electricity bill amounting as high as Rs.50,000.The villagers collectively went to the CM He assured them that they will recive a 75% exemption .The assurance also has proven fake as their supply were being disconnected incase of non-payment of total amount.

Apart from this even the nature was playing games .This year the severe cold has destroyed Coriander and Gram crop the most .Gopal singh of Ramanna Village District Guna was very optimistic about the profit from the Coriander that he grew in his 50 acre field , but now he has suffered a great loss.
Similarly ,In Narayanpura village of District Guna in year 2005 a Sahkari Sugar Mill ,basically a public enterprise asked farmers to grow sugarcane as they were ready to buy it at the rate of Rs.120/quintal.The farmrs seeing it as a good option did grow sugarcane in ther fields.Things changed inter, the rate had gone down to Rs.80 /quintal.The farmer in order to sell the crop ,cannot go to the mill directly .He had seek a coupen from Gram Vikas Adhikari before selling it.This also added to their misery.Moreover, 2 kg of sugar after every quinta was cut as a commission .The farmers are so disappointed ,frustrated and angry that some have even burnt their crops....
Surprisingly there was no trace of e-choupals in Guna district.




Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Government and Community................


There were cases which reveled the relationship between Governemnt and community.Though in most of the cases public expectation was more from the Government yet,there were few instance where people benefitted by the Government support.
One such case was near River Parbati in Madhya Pradesh.

Inhabitants of Village -Semlapur were crying for water.The village has 180 families and 70%of them were smalll and marginal farmers.There existed a pond in the village and the water was basically being utilised for the agricultural purposes but only by the big and rich farmers.The small and marginal farmers had no means to use the water for their fields as well .It was the big farmers were getting benefit the resource because they had equipments to pump water to their fields.Thus only the bigger farmers were enjoying water boon.The Government was urged to sort this out.Government acted fast and installed seventeen pumps for the villagers.This made a huge difference in their lives .The yield increased and the farmers export onions to Kanpur mandi.There is a new economic wave in the region with small effort made by the Government.


The issue of water also came into the picture when community expressed their concern on the decresing level of water in River Parbati.The exceesive use of the water by industries and for other purposes has in the recent time lowered the water level to an alarming state.

Loan for Tractors - An Eyewash


There is a huge network of agents in the state that act as a link between the agency that provide the loan i.e. banks and the farmers.The agents convince the farmers to apply for the loan and in the process earns around Rs.20,000 per client .The information imparted to farmers is usually incomplete and the process of granting loan is so fast that before the farmer could think the loan is sanctioned and for rest of his life he works to pay the money back.Here is one such scheme of SBI.

Funding Agency:

State Bank Of India

Krishi Plus Scheme
Purpose : Scheme for financing tractor to Rural Youth for custom hiring.
Eligibility :

  • Any rural youth below the age of 45 years, and undergone training in maintenance/repairs of automobiles / tractors.
  • The applicant and his family should belong to the small and marginal farmer category.

The applicant should have a valid tractor driving licence and should operate the tractor by himself ie. the tractor should be owner driven.
Loan amount :
As per quotation of the tractor and other accessories including trailer of borrower's choice.
The tractor to be financed should be in the approved list of tractors circulated to the branches by us. 85 % of the cost of the asset is provided as loan. Maximum amount Rs.4 lacs.
Documents you need to provide :

  • Land records in the name of your family / applicant (minimum 1 acre) to be submitted. valid driving license.

Disbursement of the loan : The loan amount will be paid directly to the supplier of the tractor and accessories.
Security :

Amount of Loan Security to be furnished

*Upto Rs. 50, 000 Hypothecation of assets financed
*Above Rs. 50, 000 i. Hypothecation of assets financed

& upto Rs. 1, 00, 000 ii. Mortgage of lands or Third party guarantee

*Above Rs. 1, 00, 000 i. Hypothecation of assets financed ii. Mortgage of lands

Repayment : A maximum period of 7 yrs is allowed as per your liquidity position.
How to apply for this loan :
You may contact our nearest branch for the application or even talk to the marketing officers visiting your village and produce the land documents.

The Yatra team came across another such instance in Rajgarh District,MP. Luxminarayan Sharma of Barkhera Khurd was granted loan of Rs.2.70 lakh ,for an Escort tractor seven yaers ago ,by SBI through an agent .Luxmi narayan was not very sure of applying for the loan because of the financilal constraints.The agent however succeded in convincing him by saying he will enjoy higher status among the fellow farmers. To impress him further he was givenRs 1000 for buying gifts for his family (after he applied for the loan) and was escorted back in a car from the bank.
Luxminarayan today curses the day he was sancioned the loan.He has already paid Rs.5.50 Lakh and still pays an yearly amount of Rs. 20,000 .
This is obviously not the only case but it is one of the hundreds of similar cases in the adjoining areas.There is an estimate of over one lakh such cases in the state of Madhya Pradesh .
This calls for a serious enquiry in the whole process.

FARMERS COME TOGETHER


Village Khujner,Rajgarh,MP:

In some of the villages around Khujner a unique organisation is working .Around 1600 small and marginal farmers have organised themselves under Agriculture Produce Co.Pvt.Ltd. with the organisational set up of around 10 directors, 18 partners from different villages.This was set up inorder to avoid the middleman,Mandi and choupals.The farmers collect the produce and sell it themselves.The first collection was that of 180 quintals of soyabean ,that was sold to a soya plant in Bhopal.It is a very good effort but farmers are still trying to improve their profit.In the above case only the soya farmers sold to the company in Bhopal rated their produce as "A"Grade but still the price paid was not that good.It was due to the fact that the company has regular suppliers as well.
Anyway this initiative taken by the farmers is appreciable.This company has the share worth Rs. 5 to Rs.10 .The company controls the price and it started selling fertilisers, seeds and other related products as well.The good news is that it has increased by 25%in an year.When it started soyabean was the only crop but now other crops are also being tried.The payment to farmers and other purposes is done through cheques, which makes the whole system very transparent .

Case Studies from District Rajgarh


District Rajgarh,MP :It is one of the smaller districts of Madhya Pradesh but a long list of incidents and cases which gives a clear picture of how farmers are being exploited by the Governemnt, bank, and others.There is no suport from any one .The state is predominantly agricultural and about 80% of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. Rice, wheat, soyabean, rapeseed and mustard are among the principal crops of the state. But it is in the matter of pulses, urad, mung, gram and arhar, that Madhya Pradesh leads the others with about one-fifth of the total production of these protein-rich food crops coming from the state. The black soil of the Malwa region is good for cultivation of cotton and some textile mills have also come up because of the availability of cotton.The state is predominantly agricultural and about 80% of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. Rice, wheat, soyabean, rapeseed and mustard are among the principal crops of the state. But it is in the matter of pulses, urad, mung, gram and arhar, that Madhya Pradesh leads the others with about one-fifth of the total production of these protein-rich food crops coming from the state. The black soil of the Malwa region is good for cultivation of cotton and some textile mills have also come up because of the availability of cotton.

Ravi Mahehwari shares his story with the yatris.He owns 22 acres of land .Apart from other , gram is a major crop grown in the region.This year due to severe cold the farmers sufferred a loss as there was a huge damage to the crop.Ravi after suffering the loss went to Patwari/Tehsildar again and again with a plea of inspection so that he could get some compensation as the damage occured due to climatic changes .But no body listened and no ispection was done by the officials. Finally , Ravi lost the hope of getting any help from the Government .He prepares himself to ploughs the field.Now as soon as he starts ploughing the officials reach the field and made a statement that as he is working in the fields it shows that there no harm done by the calamity and so he is not entitled to any compensation as such.
The winter this time has affected the overall production of various crops in the region .There has been 50 % damage to coriander and 25% damage to Gram.Farmers in Guna and Rajgarh district are very disappointed with this sudden crop damage.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mandi and e Choupal-IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE?



Mandi Operation process:
Inbound Logistics -Display & Inspection-Auction-Bagging & Weighing-OutboundLogistics
Once potential buyers have inspected the produce, a mandi employee conducts the auction, where commission agents place bids. The auctions are typically open oral auctions with incremental bidding.The auction represents a stark contrast from the buyer’s and seller’s perspectives. For the farmer, the moment is pivotal: a scant 30 seconds assesses the results of six months of investment and hard work and establishes the value of one of only two or three paydays he will have in the year. For the commission agent, on the other hand, the moment is routine; he has many more carts of produce to buy and his margin is assured irrespective of the price. Once the price has been established by the auction, the farmer moves the cart to the weighing area run by the buying commission agent. In most cases, the weighing area is in the mandi complex. In some cases, especially if the mandi is small, the weighing area may be at the commission agent’s home near the mandi. Here, the produce is transferred from the cart into individual sacks. The sacks are then weighed,one at a time, on a manual scale. After weighing, the full value of the grain is calculated. The farmer goes to the agent’s office to collect a cash payment. The agent pays a mandi fee (1% of purchase value in Madhya Pradesh) to the mandi. The bagged produce is then loaded on to the buyer’s trucks and transported to the processing plant.
e Choupals do not provide any respite to the farmers because:
  • They have no reach to the remote areas where the facilities are much needed
  • The small and marginal farmers are not entertained and the profit is enjoyed largely by bigger farmers
  • A local farmer acting as a sanchalak (coordinator) runs the village e-Choupal( the
    computer usually is located in the sanchalak’s home).He acts more like company's spokes person.He is forced to sell ITC products otherwise his quota is slashed.
  • The small produce is often not bought so the small farmers do not benefit
  • The price depends on the quality of the product ,the garadation of the produce often cut the profit margin of the farmer and there is no difference between local mandi and e choupal
  • Many farmers do not agree with the electronic weighing of the produce
  • ITC has created malls where it sells its own products and have collaborated with eighty other companies and so their products are also sold.this way the local products are being repalced, which is threat to the economy of the region as the local market decides the economic condition of the people.Here the money is flowing out of the region , thereby making people depend more and more on the outsiders.

So ,there is only dependency and not sustainability

Few more cases

Prakash lives in the village Tigeria which is about four kilometer before Abdellaganj in Madhya Pradesh. This young man guards the fifty acre land of a person called Nyaldada. In return he gets an amount of Rs.200 per acre per season along with 5 quintals of the produce.

Ironically the land that Prakash guards today was owned by his father long time ago. His father took loan for some purpose from Nyaldada.But he could not pay it back and in that case he sold the 35 acre of the land to Nyaldada. He himself guarded the field for the new owner. After that the job was transferred to Prakash.

In village Pimpri of Yavatmal district –Ramsingh took loan from a bank for the marriage of his daughter in year 2003.He thought of paying it back from the agri produce from his fields. Unfortunately the following two years were hit by the drought. Third year brought some respite for him but that was not enough to pay the loan. Finally he received a notice from the bank to pay the amount in five days. Under the influence of pressure he committed suicide before the bank could reach him and take what ever he owned.

Such incidents call once again for the reform sin the credit policies. It needs to be more farmers friendly.

e Choupal and the Mandi system

Barikhera,Madhya Pradesh: The Yatra team came across an e choupal for the first in 46 days of the march so far. E choupal an ITC initiative, claim to confer the power of expert knowledge on even the smallest individual farmer. Thus enhancing his competitiveness in the global market.ITC started this in year 2000.It had covered 9 states, 38,500 villages and claimed to have empowered 4 million farmers with 6500 e-Choupal installations. It entered the market with the aim of transforming the Indian farmer into a progressive knowledge-seeking citizen. Enriching the farmer with knowledge; elevating him to a new order of empowerment by delivering real-time information and customized knowledge to improve the farmer's decision-making ability, thereby better aligning farm output to market demands; securing better quality, productivity and improved price discovery. The model helps aggregate demand in the nature of a virtual producers' co-operative, in the process facilitating access to higher quality farm inputs at lower costs for the farmer. The e-Choupal initiative also projected itself as a direct marketing channel, eliminating wasteful intermediation and multiple handling, thus reducing transaction costs and making logistics efficient.

But the situation is not like that .ITC claims of minimum profit and maximum benefit for the farmers but on the contrary absolutely false. Yatris got an entirely different picture of the whole thing. It is absolutely a corporate business strategy and was introduced as a profit making initiative but with a difference. It targeted the farmers. E choupals provided a place for the farmers to sell their produce .ITC offered a better price and paid the transportation cost also. But it’s a changed picture now. The transportation cost is bore by the farmer and the produce has to undergo a standard test and the price is fixed on the basis of the quality .This way the farmer does not find any significant difference between the regular mandi or the choupals.In both the cases the farmer has no say on the price of the produce . Choupals also offer farmers other products like fertilizers; a seed and so on. The company in this way has made a big market for its own products and is taking away farmer’s money in a way!

It also provides farmers with the smart cards, which allows it to enjoy the discount on the products sold by ITC .It is thus very clear that company rightly focused on the biggest consumer market –Rural area. We should not forget that maximum amount of urban products find market in the rural areas and the commodities include biscuits, salt, recharge cards, tea and so on. The Sanchalak –the farmer in whose house the computer is placed is also forced to keep company’s products in the rural market shop. Due to this the rural market is flooded with urban products. The money is not retained in the rural area but goes out .In the survey conducted by the Yatris it was observed that rural areas have the resources that can be used to produce local products that can easily replace the urban products.

The e-Choupal project claims to have benefited over 3.5 million farmers. But important point is that it has targeted mainly marginally rich farmers , the small and marginal farmers are not at all a part of it.

Another important fact is that ITC was in the business of soy products from 1990s.It started the e choupal targeting soybean ,cotton, shrimps etc.They kind of replaced the middle man and thought of buying the produce directly from the farmer thereby removing the share of the middle man. The gradation of the produce allowed them to get profit in this step as well.All the products that it makes is sold in the international market.The farmers however do not know what company does with the produce ,how much profit company earns after every product. The condition of the farmer is still same because the profit due to the primary and the secondary production still lies with the bigger players.

Monday, February 25, 2008

DEBT RIDDEN FARMERS


For small farmer, the informal sources of credit are large farmers, input suppliers (seed, fertiliser and pesticide dealers), commission agents who arrange the sale of a farmer’s produce in a mandi or market yard, and occasionally professional moneylenders. The interest rates from these sources vary from 3% per month in the southern states to over 10% per month in the eastern states. Moreover, such credit is often tied – such as the obligation to work in the large farmers’ land as needed, and selling their produce through the same commission agent who advanced a loan for the sowing season. The relationship varies from being mildly unfavourable to the farmer to being highly exploitative, depending on the place.


The Yatris met Dayaram in Yavatmal who works on a sixteen acre land of bigger farmer.Dayaram's family was also employed in the same field.In return of the work the family collectively had been getting Rs.19,000 per annum for last nine years.The owner in turn earns in lakhs.This forces the smalll farmer to continue the same work for many more years and also he can not think of any other option for his kids as the resources are not enough .


RURAL CREDIT SYSTEM

Money lenders in India are as old as its villages, agricultural credit cooperatives go back a century, commercial banks have been involved in agricultural loans for nearly 50 years, the regional rural bank network is over 25 years old, and reforms in the banking system were triggered a decade back. Yet, credit flow to small farmers has remained far below needs, both for crop cultivation and for long term requirements such as land development, irrigation and farm equipment as compared to the potential demand. The widespread discontent among farmers has manifested itself in the form of mass voting against incumbent governments as also individual acts of despair such as farmers committing suicide, particularly in States like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The basic architecture of the credit system is:
  • Cooperative credit structure (CCS): The Cooperative Credit Structure caters to both the short term and long term credit need of the rural consumers. The short term credit need of the rural consumers is fulfilled by three institutions, namely, the State Cooperative Banks (SCBs), District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) and the large network of the Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) in the villages. On the other hand, the State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (SCARDBs) provide long term credit in the rural economy through Primary Land Development Banks, now renamed Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (PCARDBs). In Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand the long term structure has been merged with the short term structure.
  • National Bank of Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD): This is refibnanced by CCS .These institutions are, however, beset with problems like low recovery percentage (40-60%), inefficient management systems and politicization of the cooperatives due to inadequate laws prevalent in the system. In 2001-02, there were over 98,000 primary agricultural cooperatives and the loan outstanding was Rs 32712 crore. In addition, the cooperative sector also had Rs 14,172 crore of long term loans given for land and water development, tractors, etc.
  • Commercial Banks: The involvement of commercial banks in credit to agriculture began after the Gorawala Committee Report in 1954. The State Bank of India was asked to open 400 branches in semi-urban areas and start agricultural lending. The issue became urgent with the onset of the Green Revolution, as the package of high yielding variety seeds and fertilisers required access to credit. The government responded by first directing banks to lend to agriculture, then imposing ‘social control’ and eventually nationalising the major banks in 1971. This was followed by a major expansion in rural branches and introduction of the Lead Bank scheme and district credit plans. Within the overall quota of 40% priority sector lending, banks were asked to lend 18% of their total advances to agriculture. The number of commercial bank branches as also the share of commercial banks in agricultural credit kept rising, particularly as cooperative credit structure in many states was not working well. This trend remained till the late 1980s, when the Agriculture and Rural Debt Relief Scheme, 1989 was announced by the then government resulting in a waiving of all loans below Rs 10,000. This created repayment problems for banks and generally discouraged them from further lending.
  • Regional Rural Banks (RRBs): In 1972, the Banking Commission observed that despite massive expansion of the network of commercial banks consequent to nationalisation, there was still a need for having a specialised network of bank branches to cater to the needs of the rural poor. With this premise, RRBs were established in India under the RRB Act, 1976. The thinking was to set up RRBs as rural-oriented commercial banks with the low cost profile of cooperatives but the professional discipline and modern outlook of commercial banks.
    Between 1975 and 1987, 196 RRBs were established with over 14,000 branches. A large number of branches of RRBs were opened in the hitherto un-banked or under-banked areas providing services to the interior and far-flung areas of the country. RRBs were expected to primarily cover small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, rural artisans, small traders and other weaker sections of the rural community. However, even after so many years, the market share of RRBs in rural credit remains low. At present, the RRBs share in agriculture credit is 8% while that of commercial banks is about 50% and that of CCS is 42%.In the very first decade of the setting up of RRBs, 152 out of 188 RRBs had accumulated losses of Rs 340 crore. The losses went up sharply in 1992 on account of implementation of the National Industrial Tribunal Award bringing parity in wage structure of RRBs with that of commercial banks. This negated the low cost structure of RRBs and more losses were accumulated. The government took note of the grim situation of RRBs and several committees were set up to look into various problems and issues faced by RRBs. Over the period 1994-2000, 187 RRBs were provided with a total of Rs 2188 crore for recapitalisation. However, their financial viability continues to be overstretched by policy rigidities coupled with a lower capital base in an environment of inadequate infrastructure and deep social and economic disparities.
  • Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs): Even as banks are physically present in rural areas and offer concessional interest rates, small farmers are unable to access them because of borrower-unfriendly products and procedures, inflexibility and delay, and high transaction costs, both legitimate and illegal. It was in this context that NGOs began to examine alternative ways to enhance access to credit by the poor since the mid-1970s. After pioneering efforts by organisations like SEWA, MYRADA, PRADAN and CDF, in 1992 the RBI and NABARD encouraged commercial banks to link up with NGOs to establish and finance self-help groups of the poor.
  • Informal Sources: RBI data reveals that informal sources provide a significant part of the total credit needs of the rural population. The magnitude of the dependence of the rural poor on informal sources of credit can be seen from the findings of the successive All India Debt and Investment Surveys (AIDIS). These show that the share of non-institutional agencies (informal sector) in the outstanding cash dues of rural households has reduced from 83.7% in 1961 to 36% in 1991. As per the latest AIDIS, 1992, formal institutional sources, banks and cooperatives provided credit support to almost 64% of the rural households, while professional and agricultural moneylenders extend credit to about one sixth of the rural
    Source
    households.

(Vijay Mahajan and Bharti Gupta Ramola. ‘Financial Services for the Rural Poor and Women in India: Access and Sustainability,’ Journal of International Development 8(2), 1996, 211-24.)

Suicides ....


Village :Bodhponam,District Yavatmal
This village has experienced 18 suicides in last 6 years including one woman.


Village:Lonighatna ,District Yavatmal
Year 2004-04 Total of ten suicides cases happened in the village.The list includes:Narayan Debrao, Ramsingh,Vinod Rathore and others
No sort of compensation ever reached the families of these farmers.

Village :Sakhra ,District Yavatmal
Records 5 cases of suicides.Sangla Chauhan, Bhau Ram, Rabu Bhindari,Uttam Chaudhary are a few to name.State Government has given the compensation which included money and cattle .

Compensation however is not the solution to the problem.More and more farmers are commiting suicides under the pressure of debt ,repeated crop failures and poor economic condition .

EXPERIENCES : Poors are always victim

Maharashtra has come into spotlight in recent times due to various reasons like drought, crop failure and record of suicide cases by farmers. On the top of it lack of credit reforms and absence of a fixed price for the produce adds to the misery of the farmers. The team came across various incidents that are enough to describe the condition of farming and farmers in the state. To begin with, in Chandrapur district there is a place called Buttabori which is to be developed as an industrial estate by one company. The history reveals that this company came here from Hinna with a huge sum that it had added in its account from various Government loans. The company later fled with the sum from there and started the work in Bittabori with of course same infrastructure but different name . Till date no action has been taken against it by the government agencies that had sanctioned the loan.

But at the same time banks have released the ‘Wanted’ notice against eight farmers .These farmers applied for the loan of Rs20, 000-Rs.40, 000 but were unable to pay it on time due to crop failure and other related reasons.

The above two cases are from the same place and it is sad and unfortunate that nobody thinks twice before acting against a poor farmer but when it comes to taking action against any rich and big company they take their own time…

Maharashtra

Agriculture is the mainstay of the state of Maharashtra. It is the main occupation of the people. Both food crops and cash crops are grown in the state. The main food crops of Maharashtra are mangoes, grapes, bananas, oranges, wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, and pulses. Cash crops include groundnut, cotton, sugarcane, turmeric, and tobacco. The total irrigated area which ahs been used for crop cultivation is 33, 500 square kilometers. Large areas of the state have been brought under fruit cultivation. The fruits which have added to the treasury of the state are the Nagpur oranges, oranges of Bathplug, the Alphonso Mangoes and the grapes of Nashik. The agricultural growth rate has increased to 1.97%. To make things more accessible for the farmers the interest rate for the loans has been decreased to 6%. A very important problem is the dependence on rainfall. To lessen the dependence irrigation facilities have been extended to an additional area of 1.4 lakh hectares. To provide relief to stressed farmers who have been affected by the drought conditions, Rs.5200 crore has been sanctioned by the central government. This has been done to six districts of the Vidharba region. To compensate the crop losses Rs367 crore has been granted to the poor farmers. Apart from that stringent actions have been taken on 2821 illegal money lenders. Research on agriculture and agricultural products needs to be conducted to tackle the diverse agro – climatic differences. Apart from that the transport and communication services, infrastructure development in the rural area has helped in developing the agricultural production of the state.

(http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/maharashtra/maharashtraagriculture.htm)

THE HINDU
Thursday, Jan 31, 2008
17,060 farm suicides in one year
P. Sainath
Uptrends in major States unchanged
Mumbai: Farm suicides in Maharashtra rose dramatically in 2006, more than in any other part of the country. The State saw 4,453 farmers’ suicides that year, over a quarter of the all-India total of 17,060, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its report Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, 2006. That is the worst figure recorded ‘in any year for any State’ since the NCRB first began logging farm suicides.
The previous worst — 4,147 in 2004 — was also in Maharashtra. It has seen ‘36,428 farmers’ suicides’ since 1995, ‘in official count.’ ‘2006 is the latest year for which data are available.’
The suicides in Maharashtra mark an increase of 527 over the 2005 figure. This was four and a half times bigger than that in Andhra Pradesh, the next worst-hit State, which saw a rise of 117 farm suicides over 2005.
It was also more than twice the increase of 198 in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh taken together.
Worse, it means farmers accounted for half ‘the increase’ in all suicides in Maharashtra in 2006.
Significantly, Maharashtra’s upward spike occurred in the year when the relief packages of both the Prime Minister and Chief Minister — worth Rs. 4,825 crore in all — were being implemented in the Vidharbha region, where suicides have been most intense.
The NCRB figures show an unrelenting uptrend in what can be termed the ‘SEZ’ or (Farmers) ‘Special Elimination Zone’ States. These States, which account for nearly two-thirds of all farm suicides in the country, include Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh).
As a group, the ‘SEZ’ States saw an increase of 6.2 per cent in such deaths.
Among them, Maharashtra (4,453), Andhra Pradesh (2,607) and Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (2,858) show a sharp upward spike.
Karnataka (1,720) reports a decline. So though the all-India numbers for 2006 reflect a very small decline of 61 over the 2005 figure of 17,131, the broad trends of the last decade continue. And the trend of rapidly rising farm suicides, particularly post-2001 in the ‘SEZ’ States, remains unchanged.
So the minuscule decline in the figure for the country as a whole marks no break from the dismal decade-long trend.
NCRB data record 1,66,304 farmers’ suicides in a decade since 1997.
Of these, 78,737 occurred between 1997 and 2001. The next five years — from 2002 to 2006 — proved worse, seeing 87,567 farmers take their own lives.
This means that on average, there has been one farmer’s suicide every 30 minutes since 2002.
(http://www.hinduonnet.com/2008/01/31/stories/2008013160930100.htm)

17.060 farm suicides in one year

Together for a cause

href="http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/maharashtra/maharashtraagriculture.htm">http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/maharashtra/maharashtraagriculture.htm)





THE HINDU

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008

17,060 farm suicides in one year
P. Sainath


Uptrends in major States unchanged


Mumbai: Farm suicides in Maharashtra rose dramatically in 2006, more than in any other part of the country. The State saw 4,453 farmers’ suicides that year, over a quarter of the all-India total of 17,060, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its report Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, 2006. That is the worst figure recorded ‘in any year for any State’ since the NCRB first began logging farm suicides.
The previous worst — 4,147 in 2004 — was also in Maharashtra. It has seen ‘36,428 farmers’ suicides’ since 1995, ‘in official count.’ ‘2006 is the latest year for which data are available.’
The suicides in Maharashtra mark an increase of 527 over the 2005 figure. This was four and a half times bigger than that in Andhra Pradesh, the next worst-hit State, which saw a rise of 117 farm suicides over 2005.
It was also more than twice the increase of 198 in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh taken together.
Worse, it means farmers accounted for half ‘the increase’ in all suicides in Maharashtra in 2006.
Significantly, Maharashtra’s upward spike occurred in the year when the relief packages of both the Prime Minister and Chief Minister — worth Rs. 4,825 crore in all — were being implemented in the Vidharbha region, where suicides have been most intense.
The NCRB figures show an unrelenting uptrend in what can be termed the ‘SEZ’ or (Farmers) ‘Special Elimination Zone’ States. These States, which account for nearly two-thirds of all farm suicides in the country, include Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh).
As a group, the ‘SEZ’ States saw an increase of 6.2 per cent in such deaths.
Among them, Maharashtra (4,453), Andhra Pradesh (2,607) and Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (2,858) show a sharp upward spike.
Karnataka (1,720) reports a decline. So though the all-India numbers for 2006 reflect a very small decline of 61 over the 2005 figure of 17,131, the broad trends of the last decade continue. And the trend of rapidly rising farm suicides, particularly post-2001 in the ‘SEZ’ States, remains unchanged.
So the minuscule decline in the figure for the country as a whole marks no break from the dismal decade-long trend.
NCRB data record 1,66,304 farmers’ suicides in a decade since 1997.
Of these, 78,737 occurred between 1997 and 2001. The next five years — from 2002 to 2006 — proved worse, seeing 87,567 farmers take their own lives.
This means that on average, there has been one farmer’s suicide every 30 minutes since 2002.


(http://www.hinduonnet.com/2008/01/31/stories/2008013160930100.htm)


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Route -Nagpur to Agra

The route Map & Travel Plan is on the basis of 50 kms cycle travel per day.
NAGPUR (MS)
SABNER (MS)
PANDURNA (MP)
MULTAI (MP)
JOULKHEDA (MP)
BETUL (MP)
SHAHPUR (MP)
KIRATPUR (MP)
OBEDULLAGANJ (MP)
BHOPAL (MP)
KURAWAR (MP)
BIOARA (MP)
BEENAGANJ (MP)
RAGHOGARH (MP)
GUNA (MP)
BADARWAS (MP)
SHIVPURI (MP)
MOHONA (MP)
GWALIOR (MP)
MORAINA (MP)
DHOULPUR (RAJ)
AGRA (UP)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cooperative set by a farmer


Village Jamari, MP
A farmer and owner of one acre of land suddenly finds treasure when he discovers water underneath his fields.He thought of managing this resource and its proper utilisation.He made a cooperative which sold water to other farmers at the rate of Rs.1200 per crop and usually there are two crops in an year.So far he has given water to eight farmers and earns Rs.20,000 per year from this alone...
This has brought hope for many others.
Dashmesh for example is now growing wheat in his five acre land for the first time in last five years.
But sadly in a similar attempt a farmer dug his seven acre land seven times in hope to get water but in vain..
How ever the idea of cooperative by farmer/local was an excellent experience of the team.

Stories from the Madhya Pradesh

In conversation with the farmers in Madhya Pradesh,Yatra Team found that there is a huge network of the agents who lure the farmers for loans for tractors by misleading them with faulty or half information.Later in case of the non-payment of money the tractors is take away leaving farmer to suffer the crisis that follow.
In a typical a farmer Kailash of village Khambra, district Betul,MP was approached by an agent Bhupendra Sahu in year 1998.He convinced Kailash to buy tractor by taking the loan. Kailash did not own any land but for the loan he puchased land from his uncle and applied for the loan.But Kailash could not even pay the first instalment and soon he accepted the fact thet he can never pay the money back.After four years he lost the land and also the tractor. Today he struggles hard to earn daily meal.The agent here gets around Rs.20,000 per client(Farmer).

There are over one lakh such cases in the region..The government pays no heed to it and hundreds of tractors whichwere taken back from such farmers ,are lying in Tehsil the land.It is a huge problem in the State as there are schemes to attract farmers like: free 20 L of diesel on the purchase some gift etc.
There are several other cases that tells the sad state of Framers. There are cases in which the farmer had asked for a loan of Rs.2.5 lakh but had already paid Rs. 6 Lakh as interest money.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Development & people ..the missing link

Is common man really getting any benefit from the so called developmental activities taking place all over??


Time to think again!













Glimpse...

Raising hands with pledge to save" Agricultural land..."

In conversation with locals

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

India and the people...








The life in rural India...


The land....










Beautiful landscapes ...