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Will Farmer Losses at the time of COVID-19 be Compensated: Can we Avoid Farmer Suicides:The Government Needs to Act Now

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

A farmer Narasimha Reddy from Kummavaripally in Anantpur District grew tomato in 7 acres with Rupees 10 Lakhs investment. Yesterday the price in Madanapalli market was Rs 80 for 30 Kg box and in Chintamani market was Rs 25 for 18 kg box reports Ramanjaneyulu G.V. It cannot be processed because there are thousands of acres around here.

Munishamappaa farmer in Chikkaballapur decided to dump loads of Grapes cultivated at is Vineyard into a compost pit as buyers failed to turn up citing lack of transportation due to Corona Lock down.

Mahesh Bhat visited Hessaraghatta market, Karnataka to buy vegetables, he says there are no stocks, many shops are closed. The whole sale market isn’t open for the fruit vendor to get his supplies. The shop is selling the few watermelons in stock. One the other the farmer Amaregouda Patil has 4 tonnes of produce to sell in Kushatagi Taluk, Koppal District (there are hundreds of other farmers like him). Koppal District administration has allowed transport of Agri produce. But are there enough Trucks and Drivers? Some civil groups are helping. But this crisis is massive. The only proper solution of restarting supply chain by providing PPE’s to workers involved. The government needs to act now.

L.C. Nagaraj says he has been visiting vegetable production units for the past ten days. The crisis he thinks will get transitioned into spiralling once the quarantine gets over. Currently farmers cannot access vegetable seeds nor do they have sufficient land race varieties.Farmers cannot access pesticides and insecticides not are they aware of any alternative practices. He also reminds us of meta humanitarian crisis ahead if the public sector seed production isn’t reactivated and farmers aren’t made aware of alternative methods of pest control practices as Dr. Hanumantha Rao committee had opined in the mid term report of the 11th Planning Commission.

It seems the Kerala Coorg border has been closed with a massive mud wall so no vehicle can cross. We are hearing reports about the Kerala government making arrangements to collect straight from the farmers and use it in Community kitchens.

As Reported by Down to Earth as early as April 2019 the farmers in areas of Chittoor and nearby areas of Andra Pradesh were hand-picked by the government for its One District one Product scheme. The project was announced by Arun Jaitley in his 2018 budge. The Centre’s decision was to support the production processing and marketing of tomatoes, onions and potatoes. But what are the current conditions showing light on?

I wonder what happened to the ODOP scheme. It was decided that the total cost in setting up this would be Rs 100 crore. Last March they has already allocated Rs 50 Crore to the state. It was agreed that the ODOP aimed to develop FPO’S, agrilogistics, processing facilities and professional management According to the reports there would be 15000 farmers, 20 refrigerated trucks to transport tomatoes and storage facilities of 5000 tonnes to be set up in two centres in the State.

But it looks as if there is no alternative other than to succumb to the huge losses, says Farmers. It must be heartbreaking for them. Who is to blame here? The government or the farmers? Is there a cropping pattern that the farmers need to follow so that there will never be huge losses in a single crop. Does the farmer need to be educated to avoid a glut and the consequent failures and life saving techniques. If not now when are we going to learn and relearn all these. Situations like these have happened before, but we aren’t learning from any of them. Will the farmer be able to suffer such huge losses like 5-6 lakhs per hectare. Can now atleast the government intervene, set up committees that will look into these facts and take up some strong decisions at village level or panchayat level so that we could avoid farmer suicides at this point.

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