Saturday, August 27, 2011

Indian farmers stop growing rice

Farmers in the fertile Konaseema region, often referred to as the "rice bowl" of Andhra Pradesh, to declare a "crop holiday" this season. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) officials believe that the decision of the farmers of East Godavari district not to grow crops this season could turn contagious and find an echo in other parts of the country too. As it is, farmers in Kurnool, Khammam and Nellore districts, taking a cue from their East Godavari counterparts, have already announced their intention to go in for a crop holiday. While the crop holiday will hit the paddy production very hard this season, the biggest sufferers are agricultural labourers and daily wage workers.

Hundreds of farmers spread over 250 villages in the fertile region have decided to keep their fields fallow rather than risk continued losses, attributed to the soaring input costs and non-remunerative price for the produce. This means that there will be no paddy cultivation in over 1.70 lakh acres in the region that accounts for 60 per cent of the state’s food production.

G Subba Rao, a farmer says that while it costs around Rs28,500 to cultivate paddy on one acre, the yield fetches only Rs21,000.

A majority of the farmers could not sell their produce last season due to lack of Minimum Support Price from the millers. As a result, they could not repay bank loans taken last year and the banks refused to give fresh crop loans and input subsidy this year. Despite a bumper crop in the last agricultural season, the farmers could not sell their entire produce because the rice millers had offered them a meagre rate of Rs700 to Rs750 per quintal as against the MSP of Rs1,000 to Rs1,030 per quintal depending on the quality of paddy. The small and marginal farmers had to resort to distress selling.

“We tried to bring pressure on the government to make the millers buy at the MSP, but the officials succumbed to the millers’ lobby and denied us the rate,” another farmer from Amalapuram, N Satyanarayana, said.

Capitalism's crazy price system.

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