Letter to Sonia Gandhi: If the government wants to stop farmers’ suicides

Hon. Smt Sonia Gandhi
MP. Congress Party,

Respected Madam,
Congratulations! Your victory with the record votes in Raebareli constituency parliament elections has once again proved your mettle, Madam!! We also appreciate  your stand on the free trade agreement for Asia. You have out rightly discarded the idea of any such agreement, anticipating the exploitation of Indian farmers by imports of coffee,palm oil &  pepper. But Madam, we are very sorry to state that you have not taken any cognizance of the imports of wheat and cotton that are being done on large scale.

Actually in the last decade of WTO there was a record import of cotton and only because of that today farmers in the cotton belt are committing suicides. As if this was not enough your government gave green signal for free wheat imports, so that wheat producers also go the same way!

Once our cotton was the raw material for British textile mills in Lancashire & Manchester. In the recent past i.e. in 1989 we exported about 15 lakh bales of cotton .  Before 1990 cotton import and export was totally under control of the government. After formation of W.T.O in 1995, cotton import and export is free. But we cannot not export cotton as prices in the international market has come down to one third of what it was in 1994.

We want to draw your attention to the fact that cotton price in 1994 in the world market was US$ 1 & 10cent/ pound of cotton lint. Price in 1997 went down to35-40 cent/pound of cotton lint. Today they are near about 70cent/pound of cotton lint. Hence we could not export cotton. On the contrary our imports have increased. Following are the facts and figures regarding the imports.


Imported Cotton bales in Lakhs













(1 cotton bale = 170 kg.of cotton lint)
Before & after the formation of  W. T. O.  price of cotton in Indian market is given below.



















Madam, today in 2006  when the cost of production is increased 12 times as compared to that in 1991-92 ( due to 6 times increase in petroleum prices and  2 times increase in the price of dollar) price of the same quality of cotton is just 1700-1900 rs. per quintal. Price of cotton has increased only twice. Farmer is actually bearing the burden of inflammation of economy.

As you know subsidies to cotton producers in the US are in the tune of 3.8 billion dollars! If Indian government is not in the position to give those subsidies to our own farmers it should increase the import duty on cotton  from existing 10% to 60%  and stop the cotton  imports.

Another most important issue is that of wheat imports. This year there is a rise in price of wheat in the international market. Government is importing wheat at the price of 8.10 rs. per kg. And the minimum support price the government is giving to it’s own farmers is only 6.50 rs. per kg! In Vajpayee tenure US$ 90 (4.50 rs/kg) was the cost per tonne of wheat. Government had imposed 50% import duty on wheat and stopped the imports. Your  government has brought down the import duty to 0% and importing the wheat.

Madam, nowadays, sixth pay commission for salaried class  is also being discussed. If the subsidies in the green and blue box of farmers in the US and EU are honestly reduced to zero, what would be the prices of  wheat, rice, sugar, oil and cotton? Please take some efforts to know that. If government wants to stop the suicides of farmers it should revise the prices of crops after fixing the wage of land laborer in parity
with  the salary of IV- class employee of the government. Or otherwise our farmers must get the subsidies in parity with the US and EU farmers for e.g. subsidies in blue and green box, to retain their purchasing power.

Their should also be the change in the policy of compensations given for natural calamity. Wheat, rice and grams, if spoiled due toheavy untimely rain and hailstorm, farmer must be given 100% compensation. Thus he/she should be rewarded for the heavy risk he/she takes against nature by designing and implementing a proper crop insurance policy.

We are glad Madam, that you have rejected any kind of free trade in agriculture treaty for the south east Asia. But that is not enough. As a mentor of the ruling political party in our country  we look upon you with great expectations regarding fulfilling our demands of increasing the import duty on cotton and wheat  to 60 % as per that on sugar. Also please see to it that the central governments support price for all the crops is doubled and  government intervenes in the market so that farmers get that price.

Your efforts will help farmers live a life of dignity, we hope so.

Sincerely yours

Mahendra Singh Tikait                           Vijay Jawandhia
BhartiyKisanUnion                               Shetkari Sanghatana

Chukki Nandjund Swamy                  Ajmersingh Lokhowal
Karnataka Rajya Rayyat Sangh         Bhartiya Kisan Union

Convenors: All India Farmer’s Coordination Committee

June 1, 2006