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 16, 2017 | Sanket Jain
In the second issue, Bastiyon Ka Paigam interviewed three farmers from Kolhapur district of Maharashtra who talk about their issues and why the poor farmer always suffers from loan and price politics. Kolhapur is considered as one of the most prosperous belts of agriculture in Maharashtra. However, farmers from Kolhapur recently started protesting against the inequality and injustice when it comes to agrarian issues. In order to understand the same from a sociological perspective, Bastiyon Ka Paigam interviewed farmers from Kolhapur.
Find the first issue here.
Shankar Dattu Chavan, 63, Village: Sangwadewadi, Tehsil: Karvir
Shankar started farming at the age of 15 and owns 31 Gunta (0.77 acre land) where he cultivates tomato, sugarcane, brinjal and other vegetables occasionally.
Shankar took a loan of Rs 35,000 from Jagat Vikas Seva Sanstha at 4 percent interest rate. Shankar has currently grown tomato in 10 gunta (0.24 acre) and expects produce of two tonnes. For 10 gunta land, Shankar says, “The cost of production comes around Rs 15,000 which doesn’t include my salary and it takes 5 months to grow them completely. The market price is lesser and I end up selling my tomatoes for less than Rs 10 per kg. Last year, due to demonetization I was forced to sell my tomatoes for Rs 5 per kg.”
Shankar’s problems aren’t restricted to the final price. He explains, “In September 2016, I paid Rs 1645 for electricity connection and also spent Rs 50,000 for a 234 feet bore-well. However, till date I haven’t received any electricity connection, what’s the point of a bore-well without electricity? I’ve asked them several times about my electricity connection, but the only reply I get is there are many more people in the list before me and it will take some time.”
There is an on-going water crisis for poor farmers as Shankar says, “I get water every 15 days from the public well. Imagine if I encounter some immediate crisis on 15th day, who will water my crops then? There are times when I get water during night. With no electricity, it becomes impossible for me to water the crops during night.”
For 20 years, Shankar used to break stones where he got between Rs 150 and Rs 200 daily and worked as a farmer as well. “Since agriculture didn’t pay me enough, I had to break stones so that I could send my children to school,” added Shankar. He said, “In 2006, Government took my 3 gunta land and dug it across to setup a canal which isn’t constructed till date. Shankar didn’t receive any compensation for the land and when he tried asking the concerned department, they replied saying that the land was still in the name of Shankar!
Aadam Pundlik Kamble, 35, Village: Kabnur, Tehsil: Hatkanangale
For Aadam, farming means two full time jobs. He works as a labourer in the nearby powerloom for 8 hours a day where he gets Rs 270. Also, he works as a farmer in the morning and sometimes in the evening. Aadam has 5 Gunta land (0.12 acre) and he cultivates soyabean and groundnut. His minimum cost of production is Rs 2000 and previous year he managed to cultivate 100 kg soyabean which he sold for Rs 3500.
Aadam has been farming for 12 years now and he said, “I have approached society and district bank several times for loan. However, they ask me to mortgage my land as I don’t stand ‘eligible’ for a loan on this small piece of land. I can’t risk mortgaging my land, agriculture is so uncertain for small farmers that I might end up losing my land for a small amount of loan.”
Aadam has a son who is currently studying in a nearby school in VIII grade. Aadam says, “I farm only to keep this land in a good condition, otherwise it will be full of wild plants in a month or two.”
Anand Bhimrao Kamat, 63, Village: Kabnur, Tehsil: Hatkanangale
Anand used to work in the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) for 38 years. After retiring from MSRTC he started working as a farmer in his own land. Anand cultivates soyabean, groundnut or jowar in his 0.5 acre land. He says, “For soyabean, the minimum cost of production is Rs 4000. If it rains as per the requirement of the crop, I manage to get a produce of 200 kg which I sell somewhere between Rs 20 and Rs 25. However, the irony is that I sell it for Rs 20 and buy the same for Rs 80 from the market. With my own produce, I at least get to keep some soyabean which is the only positive thing coming out from this agriculture.”
Anand doesn’t sell groundnut as the produce is just enough for his family consumption. “A poor farmer with small land can never earn any money from agriculture. They do it because that’s the only option left.”
Photos: Sanket Jain