From protests in Maharashtra to farmers shot dead in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh there has been a discontent in the Indian farmers. Bastiyon Ka Paigam will interview 100 farmers from Maharashtra to explain the agrarian crisis from their lives and look beyond the stats and the figures.
June 13, 2017 | Sanket Jain
P Sainath while discussing the latest phase of agrarian crisis said,
“Loan waivers are a tool, they are not a transformation, they are not a solution, they are a relief. Do not try understanding the agrarian situation through events and episodic situations like the strike in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu famers’ event in Delhi or even the firing at Mandsaur, these are manifestations of crisis and not the crisis. Try understanding farm crisis through the life of farmers, agricultural labourers, through the lives of people dependent on farming.”
In the first issue, Bastiyon Ka Paigam interviewed three farmers from Sangli district of Maharashtra who talk about their issues and why it becomes impossible for a poor farmer to pay the loans in current scenario.
Shivaji Rajaram Vandare, 77, Manerajuri village, Tehsil: Tasgaon
Shivaji leased out 4 acres of land where he grows Soyabean, Groudnut or at times Shalu species of Jowar. He pays Rs 10,500 as the rent every year for 4 acres of land. Shivaji has been working as a farmer for 60 years now and about the farmer protests he says, “I have not become a part of the protest because I am way too old now. Also, the protests have been politicized and barely you’ll find any poor farmer in the protests. It’s the poor farmer who dies because the corporatized farmers get away without paying their loans.”
“I rent out my two bulls for Rs 1000 daily, but the average amount spent on them is Rs 500 on a daily basis. I rent them out for 21 days a month, but this happens only for three months a year (during the sowing season),” added Shivaji. He stays with his aged wife in a room near the farm and pays Rs 500 monthly for the room.
Talking about the loans he said, “I don’t have my own land, so nobody (village society and the district bank) will give me any loan. Also, I know I won’t be able to repay it anyway, so, I have never taken any loan in entire life.”
This is the price which Shivaji gets for his produce,
1 Quintal Soyabean = Rs 2500
1 Quintal Groundnut = Rs 3000
Both the sons of Shivaji passed away almost a decade back. One of his sons committed suicide and till date Shivaji doesn’t know the reason behind the suicide. Other son died due to an electric shock.
Vasant Yashwant Lad, 67 , Kundal village, Tehsil: Palus
Vasant has three acres of land and the crop which he cultivates is sugarcane. He manages to get a produce of 30 tonnes in an acre of land. Previous year he took a loan of Rs 50,000 at the rate of 6 percent from the village society to install drip irrigation.
Currently, he has cultivated sugarcane in two acres of land as there is shortage of water in the region. Talking about the input cost for cultivating sugarcane, Vasant explains, “One trolley of Shen Khat (fertilizer) costs Rs 3750 and it takes 40 such units for an acre of land. The average amount I get for 1 tonne of sugarcane is Rs 2500. Just calculate the amount and you will figure out for yourself that a poor farmer has to take loan for everything. It’s better to stay alive than to die, so we carry on with agriculture. However, it’s the poor farmer who dies every time, nobody fights for the poor farmers.”
Babu Ramu Aidke (in his 80s), Uttam Babu Aidke (55) and Shashikant Babu Aidke (45), Kundal village, Tehsil: Palus
The Aidke family owns 5.75 acres of land and they took a loan of Rs 7 lakh four years ago from the Vikas Society at an interest rate of 8 percent. They took loan for leveling the land and buying 6 cows. Brothers Uttam and Shashikant say, “We can’t even repay the interest of this loan because of the lack of good yield as sugarcane crop requires a lot of water and there is a shortage of water (here). Most of my produce will go dry in a month or two.”
Babu Ramu Aidke, their father who is in his 80s also works in the field. “I have crossed 80 but there is no rest in agriculture, you’ve to keep working.” Babu’s ailing wife Shrimabai who is in her late 70s also works in the field and sometimes as a labourer in other’s fields. “When will this cycle of loan end?” asks Shrimabai.
Photos: Sanket Jain