BJP Announces Bonuses For Gujarat Cotton Farmers: Too Little, Too Late?
The cotton trade in India has been subject to much tragedy since the sixties. News show that, since industrial farming began becoming profitable, rural farmers have been slowly forced to undersell what little produce they could make to compete with larger farms. Add the recent climate irregularities that may be blamed on climate change, including infrequent droughts and this year’s El Nino, and you have a perfect disaster on your hands – low output, low prices, and miserable farmers.
Cotton Price Rises in Gujarat; Deemed Too Late
As noted by Gujarati News Paper, DivyaBhaskar the opposition is gaining on the Indian state government party, BJP,in rural areas. The BJP decided to implement a new policy in Modi’s state of Gujarat, by adding a bonus Rs 110 for every 20 kilos of produce. But even the local BJP-loyal farmer’s coalition, the BharatiyaKisanSangh agrees – it’s too little, too late. The organization demanded financial support back in September – but since then, farmers have been forced to sell their produce for cheap.
Industrial Farming Still Pushing on Prices; Output Lowest since 2012
According to the organization, farmers have been selling their produce at a price of roughly Rs 800-875 per 20 kilos, for the past two months, versus the Rs 1,100 per 20 kilos that farmers with enough capacity are preparing to sell.
Currently, market prices are higher than the MSP (minimum support price). Production has been at an all-time low, as well. “Cotton production in the state was expected to be about nine million bales, but in current scenario it will be around 7.5 million bales. Prices are not likely to go below Rs 950 this season,” speculated the managing director for Jaydeep Cotton Fibre, Arvind Pan.
Furthermore, the BJP announced that the bonus is only valid for cotton sold to the Cotton Corporation of India. In that, however, lies another big snag according to Dudhatra.
“Small farmers want to be paid soon after harvesting as they have to pay their bills including that for seeds and pesticides,” Dudhatra clarifies. “However, CCI only procures cotton when prices go below MSP. When the market price is higher than MSP, why would CCI procure cotton? The bonus announcement seems futile.”
That doesn’t mean that there are no benefactors in the BJP’s implementations – simply that many farmers can no longer benefit, as an expected 40% of the season’s cotton harvest has already been sold.
Regional Activists Demand Similar Bonuses
Despite the apparent futility of the bonuses, activists in Vidarbha are pushing the state government for similar bonuses.”The situation of farmers in Vidarbha is worse than their counterparts in Gujarat. The growers here have been facing crop failure since last two years. To make things worse, even the market rates of cotton have been bearish, getting close to the minimum support price (MSP) level,” stated Kishor Tiwari, a local activist in a meeting with the media. According to Farmer.gov.in, present market prices for Gujarat cotton are around Rs 4,500 per quintal – roughly Rs 900 per 20 kilos. India remains the second largest producer of cotton in the world under China, according to Statista.