The excess rain in Vidarbha region this year surely has taken its toll in cotton production in many districts. Farmers have succumbed to suicide because of crop failure to save their soul from humiliation by the moneylenders and banks’ recovery agents for the debts... all this while the government agency declared the MSP of cotton as Rs. 3000/- for every quintal. The excessive rain meant excessive growing of weeds in the cotton fields, which means every single farmer has had to spend extra on labours to remove the excessive weeds... so but obvious the investment of cotton growing farmers escalated as compared to earlier times.
The harvesting season surely made majority of the farmers sceptical about their hard labour’s return. The global cotton market has seen a great loss of cotton because of various natural calamities in the region of China, Bangladesh and Pakistan, so but obvious the demand in the international market for the white gold has increased considerably this year. But the government is sitting pretty to announce the minimum support price to procure cotton at Rs. 3000/-, which is far low than what the private traders have been offering and buying the produce from the farmers in various districts of Vidarbha.
Farmers are satisfied and happy to sell their produce to private traders at rates that has ranged from Rs. 4000/- to Rs. 5111/- per quintal in the 11 districts of Vidarbha. Not surprisingly, all the government procurement centres have seen not even a single farmer selling their produce and so far have had a deserted look during the peak time of the year. The difference in goverment’s MSP and private traders’ offering shows how the market is controlled by the middlemen rather than either the farmer or the government. The devastation of crops in other cotton growing countries surely has made the traders to take the opportunity to make more money from the international market and they have not hesitated to give the farmers a better price this year. Also since the total production has reduced from 400 lakh quintals in 2008-2009 period to an estimated 375 lakh quintals this year, the demand for white gold would be higher and that the private traders are intelligent enough to read while the government prefers to sleep with their Rs. 3000/- offering.
While the traders are good market players and opportunist, the government should think of the benefits of the farmer’s community and offer a better MSP so that the farmers don’t get played by the traders’ lobby. Had there been a bumper crop this elsewhere, most of the Indian farmers would have lost on their hard labour. Thankfully, this year most of the cotton growers in Vidarbha are happy with the above Rs.4000/- per quintal procurement rates and their hard labour has paid dividends, thanks to the private traders.
The government has failed yet again in its policy! Hope it learns a good lesson for the next season...