India: Prime Minister’s package a whole nothing

The package that hon. Prime minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh has announced on his visit to Waifad is of no use to dry land farmers. Reconstitution of loans (which was very much needed ) is only going to increase the loan burden on farmers as nothing is done to increase the loan paying  capacity. Out of three thousand seven hundred & fifty crore rupees package seven hundred twelve crore rs. allotted for waiving loan interests. By doing this central government has rectified the mistake done by state government. But this is the only relief Mr. P.M. has given to the royt.

Two thousand one hundred & seventy seven(277) crore rs. are provided for generating irrigation facilities. It will bring about one lakh fifty thousand hectare land under irrigation. Even then 80 to 85 % of land remains unirrigated. This package has not at all addressed the issue of  dry land farmers who are suffering the most presently.

Dry land farmer can harvest only one crop per season. Government agencies suggests them to go for side occupations like dairy milk production for survival. But in dry land it is not economical to take fodder crop. How will then the malnourished cows produce milk? Farmers are not going for this alternative because it is no more economical.
State government also now & then advices to stop cultivating cotton. Seventy eight crore rs. have been allotted for Sprinkle irrigation, two twenty five(225) crore rs. are being provided for horticulture and one hundred & eighty(180) crore rs. for seeds. All this money will actually go to the seed companies like Monsanto and other agribusinesses. If the same amount would have been provided for jowar, pulses, and corn  it would have brought smile on farmer’s face. All above provisions in the package are made to please the irrigated farmers.

If the primary amount of loan rs.  twenty five thousand (2500) would have been waived, 90(ninety) % farmers would have been relieved of their entire loans.  Other among the most awaited decisions were to increase the price of cotton, to reinstate the advance bonus. There is a strong demand from every side to increase the import duty on cotton. That’s not done.

Entire world knows about the huge subsidies America showers up on it’s cotton producers. China too gives 900(nine hundred) rs. per quintal subsidy on cotton to counter the subsidies of America. In China per acre yield of cotton is 10 quintal. It means per acre subsidy Chinese cotton producer is getting is 9000(nine thousand ) rs. At the same time China has imposed 40% import duty on cotton. And above all Chinese farmers do not use hybrid cotton seeds, still per acre yield is more than the Indian counterpart! Monsanto itself has declared this fact! How misleading it is to say that b.t. cotton seeds will increase the yield.

At World Trade Organization meet at Geneva the US has refused to reduce their subsidies on cotton. Hence it is essential to increase the cotton import duty up to 60%. (Govt. says it is not necessary as cotton exports have increased. 32 lakh bales of cotton were exported last year. Why then cotton prices are not increased in the market?)
Vice Chief minister of Maharashtra Shree R.R. Patil had said that he will demand the increase in import duty on cotton. State minister of cotton procurement and processing Shree Harshawardhan Patil had said that he will ask P.M. to increase the minimum support price of cotton. Why did not they persue the matter then? May be because there is no enough pressure from the local leaders.

We all thank hon. Prime Minister for his kind gesture of visiting the aggrieved Vidarbha Farmers. But it doesn’t seem that his remedy will cure them. If not then yes, we will have to change the doctor!

Vijay Jawandhia
Shetkari Sanghatana
(Member of Via Campesina)
July 2006