Somewhere in Maharashtra....

The state government-appointed Farm Distress Management Task Force, in its report, has recommended that sugarcane and Bt Cotton be banned in Marathwada and Vidarbha. Both the “killer crops“ should be replaced with food crops like oil seeds, pulses, maize and sorghum with state incentive and support price protection.
Renowned agrarian expert and head of the task force Kishore Tiwari submitted the report to the government, stating that 14 districts in Marathwada and Vidarbha region, where rain-sensitive cash crops like sugarcane and Bt cotton are cultivated, have witnessed farmer suicides and led to acute water shortage. These should be replaced with the food crops, he said, adding that sugarcane and Bt cotton have over-exploited water in the dry land region and resulted in the manmade drought.
“At present, only 35% of the 4 million distressed farmers of the 14 districts are getting fresh crop loans. Suicide is a burning issue in the area and hence Rs.10,000 crore additional farm credit cover should be provided to the 4 million farmers under institutional farm credit. The state can also cover them under the Prime Minister Crop Insurance scheme,“ stated Tiwari in his report.
Tiwari said that farm credit, crop pattern and cultivation practices are core issues related to the existing farm distress and agrarian crisis. The Farm Distress Management Task Force has asked the government to address these issues in the next kharif session.The task force has demanded a meeting on April 28 with the chief minister to discuss and resolve these issues.
Tiwari, who also heads the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti that works in the suicide-prone belts of Vidarbha region, was appointed by the government to lead the state panel to recommend steps to curb the rising numbers of farmer deaths and to find alternative crops suitable for cultivation in the area.
The state has already decided not to permit new sugar factories in Marathwada on account of the worst-ever drought in the region. The region is reeling under the crisis for the fourth consecutive year.

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