Maharashtra Farmers Throw Onions, Daal Outside State Assembly

Agitated farmers led by Member of Parliament Raju Shetty, the leader of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana, protested against the government’s apathy outside he state Assembly by throwing onions and tur daal to the ground. Raju Shetty and some other members of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana also courted arrest.

Farmers are aggrieved by the fact that while production costs for onion have been Rs 700-800 per quintal, all that they are able to recoup in the market is a rate of Rs 500 per quintal. Having taken loans to cultivate the crops, the farmers feel selling the produce is going to be a fruitless exercise.

Farmers Caught In an Eternal Debt Trap

More than half India's farming households are in debt, owing banks and moneylenders hundreds of millions of rupees, despite numerous loan write-offs by successive governments.

Tens of thousands of farmers across the country have killed themselves over the past decade, several farmers' lobbying groups say.

Farmers’ groups have been demanding better monsoon forecasts, bigger fertiliser subsidies and a state-funded insurance scheme for all crops, to help farmers improve yields and help prevent crop failures.

Farm Output = 15 % of India's $2 trillion economy

Indian farmers seldom own the land they cultivate, and often take loans to buy seeds and fertilisers. Only about one tenth of India's 263 million cultivators take out crop insurance because of the high premiums.

Unpredictable weather and low crop yields have made farming unviable for many. Financial assistance provided by the government usually doesn't cover the losses, and some farmers have migrated to urban areas for low-paid jobs, even selling their blood to make ends meet.

Farm output contributes about 15 percent to India's $2 trillion economy, and farmers and rural communities are a large and powerful vote bank.

Politicians Don’t Address The Real Cause

Politicians have often promised to waive farmers' loan repayments, but have not addressed the underlying reasons for their chronic indebtedness, activist Kishor Tiwari told Reuters last year.

"The need of the hour is a focus on the dying farmer community," said Tiwari, who heads a task force set up to recommend action to tackle farmer suicides in Maharashtra, which accounted for more than half of all suicides among Indian farmers in 2014.

Farmer Suicides

A total of 5,650 farmer suicides were recorded in India in 2014, more than half of them in Maharashtra, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. The states of Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chattisgarh and Karnataka also had large numbers of farmer suicides.

(With Reuters inputs)

Video Editor : Mohd. Ibrahim