The plight of farmers seem to be going from bad to worse. Last week, Delhi witnessed a sea of land cultivators marching towards the Parliament in order to express their acute dissent with the central government policies for the agriculturists.
Nashik district in north Maharashtra accounts for 50 per cent of onion production in India. An onion-grower from the said district had to sell his produce for little over Re. 1 per kg.
Speaking to PTI on Sunday, Sanjay Sathe said,
“I produced 750 kg of onion in this season but was offered a rate of Re. 1 per kg at Niphad wholesale market last week. Finally I could negotiate a deal for Rs 1.40 per kg and received Rs. 1,064 for 750 kg,” he said.
Disheartened with such paltry returns after four months of toiling, Sathe decided to send his entire earnings to the Prime Minister as a mark of protest. He quoted,
“It was painful to see such paltry returns on four months of toil. Hence I have donated Rs. 1,064 to Disaster Relief Fund of the PMO as a protest. I had to pay additional Rs. 54 for sending it by money order,” he said.
“I do not represent any political party. But I am angry because of the government’s apathy towards our woes,” he added.
The money order was sent by the farmer to the PMO on 29th November this year.
Sathe is a resident of Niphad tehsil in Nashik district, and was among the handful of `progressive farmers’ selected by the Union agriculture ministry for an interaction with then US president Barack Obama when he visited India in 2010.
Adding further about his meeting with Obama eight years ago, he said,
“I have been using a voice-based advisory service (run by a telecom operator) for farmers for a long time. I used to call them and get information about weather changes, and thus succeeded in increasing my production.
“I had also been invited to speak about my experiments in agriculture on local radio stations of AIR. So the agriculture ministry selected me to set up a stall at St Xavier’s College in Mumbai when Obama visited it. I could speak to him for a couple of minutes through an interpreter.”
If the onions were fetching paltry sums for farmers, returns from brinjal cultivation has been even worse. After being offered a meagre 20 paise per kilogram for his brinjal production, Rajendra Bawake, from Sakuri village of Ahmednagar, in Maharashtra destroyed the entire plantation on his land to save himself from incurring further losses.
Bawake claimed that he earned only Rs. 65,000 after investing Rs. 2 lakh and putting in all his energy to cultivate the brinjal crop. He was highly frustrated for not even getting a break even, leave aside any payment for his hard work. He thus decided to uproot all plants from his field and threw them away.
Rajendra said that he had planted two acres of land and also laid pipes for drip irrigation. Totalling to an investment of Rs. 2 Lakhs, he used fertilisers, pesticides and modern mulching techniques to enhance the production. However, he ended up earning only Rs. 65,000 after all his efforts.
Infact, now the farmer also owes additional dues worth Rs. 35,000 to fertilisers and pesticide suppliers, which he is not sure how he will repay.
Bawake claimed that he fetched a mere 20 paise per kg for his crop, when he tried to sell the produce at the wholesale markets in Nashik and Surat.
“I never got better returns in the last three-four months and so, I decided to do away with the plantation,” he added.
The farmer also owns three cows at home and needs money to look after them. He was hopeful to take care of the cattle with the returns he would earn from brinjal farming, however, he was only left with acute disappointment.
However, Prime Minister seems to be completely detached from the ground reality.
While campaigning today for the upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, Narendra Modi once again resorted to ‘kaamdaar-naamdar’ (worker-dynast) jibe in his attack on Congress party which had earlier questioned his knowledge on Hinduism. Instead of addressing the current situation that is under his control since past five years, the prime minister chose to invoke the first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru instead, while talking about the agrarian distress in the country.
Modi said a leader wore a rose and had knowledge of gardening but didn’t know about farming, which he held as the reason behind farmers’ distress.
“He (Nehru) used to wear rose and had the knowledge of gardens but did not know about farmers or farming, due to which the community faced hardship,” PM Modi was quoted as saying by PTI.
- Has the Prime Minister run out of any strong combats against the agrarian distress?
- The voters elected Narendra Modi in 2014, however, they have been constantly fed with the alleged failures of Jawaharlal Nehru over past 4.5 years
- How long can the Indian Voter remain patient with such narratives and no action?
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