Vidarbha farmers feel let down
'The interim budget has failed the rain-dependent farmers, especially in view of the severe drought in the state'
Jaideep Hardikar. Nagpur
The Bharat Nirman scheme is nothing new, the leaders said. It is the same programme announced after the 53rd National Development Council meeting in May 2007, when each state was told to submit district-wise plans to push up agricultural growth.
Sources said farmers in state have suffered due to bad monsoon in 2008. In the western parts, Rabi crop could be saved because of late rains, but the farms in Vidarbha and Marathwada are in a bad state.
"How will a farmer who cultivates a single crop and is dependent on good rains survive in an inflationary economy," wondered Vijay Jawandhia, a farm expert. The interim budget has offered no price guarantee for soybean, paddy or cotton farmers, who have been affected by volatile markets.
The interim budget has failed the rain-dependent farmers, especially in view of the severe drought in the state, Jawandhia said.
The government talks of 300% rise in farm credit outlay in the last seven years, but fails to mention a gradient dip in lending post waiver, said Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. In 2007-08, nationalised banks lent Rs4,400 crore and cooperative banks lent Rs4,800 crore as crop loan in Maharashtra. The figure for 2008-09 is only Rs4,400 crore, or just 50% of the previous year, he said.
A senior officer with Maharashtra State Central Cooperative Bank admitted that crop loan disbursement would take a major hit. "Marathwada and Vidarbha would be the worst-hit regions," he said.
This year, the Cotton Corporation of India and the Maharashtra State Cotton Growers' Cooperative Marketing Federation procured cotton from farmers in the state at minimum support prices between Rs2,700 and Rs3,000 (depending on quality), when the global prices were lower.
The Centre should have declared an export subsidy on cotton and raised import duty to ensure there's no glut. Cotton procurement system will collapse in the state next year if the federation suffers huge losses, its officials feared.