Bombay HC Directs Bayer Bio Science Pvt Ltd to Compensate 45 lakhs Farmers #Goodnews


MUMBAIDEC 16, 2012, Outlook

The Bombay High Court has asked a seed manufacturing company to pay compensation of Rs 45 lakh to 164 farmers in Maharashtra for supplying defective seeds as a result of which the crop quality suffered.

The high court ordered the compensation while upholding an order of the Controller and Director of Agriculture which asked Bayer Bio Science Pvt Ltd to pay the compensation.

The company had challenged the order before the appellate authority which too upheld the order of Agriculture Director dated April 13, 2011.

By that order, the said authority has found 164 farmers entitled to compensation and asked the company to pay that amount within 30 days at 24 per cent interest under rule 12(9) of Maharashtra Cotton Seeds (Regulation of supply, distribution, sale and fixation of sale price) Rules, 2010.

The high court held that Seed Inspector and District Level Investigation Committee functioning under the Act and Rules have discharged their obligation within four corners of law.

“The Controller has looked into entire relevant material and thereafter ordered compensation to be paid to the farmers. In appeal, this exercise has been upheld. Both the authorities have looked into entire material produced before them. There is no perversity in the findings recorded”, noted Justice B P Dharmadhikari in his order on December 11.

“Similarly, there is no jurisdictional error. There are no allegations of bias or malafides. The impugned orders are, thus, in conformity with the scheme and spirit of 2009 Act and 2010 Rules. No case is, therefore, made out for interference in writ jurisdiction. Petition is dismissed”, the judge noted.

The impugned order of April 13, 2011, revealed that the company had disclosed in its leaflet the possibility of occurrence of Alterneria Leaf Blight disease in small percentage.

FILED ON: DEC 16, 2012 11:33 IST

#India-Displaced farmers watch the rise of Naya Raipur


Naya Raipur, October 30, 2012

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu

  • The Jungle Safari at Naya Raipur which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Raman Singh on Oct. 19, 2012. Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
    The Jungle Safari at Naya Raipur which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Raman Singh on Oct. 19, 2012. Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
  • Chaitram Yadav, a farmer who got less compensation for his irrigated land . Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
    Chaitram Yadav, a farmer who got less compensation for his irrigated land . Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
  • Rakhi village is almost empty now, as most of the villagers are rehabilitated in a nearby colony. Photo Suvojit Bagchi.
    Rakhi village is almost empty now, as most of the villagers are rehabilitated in a nearby colony. Photo Suvojit Bagchi.
  • Mohan Sahu of Khandwa who has lost 20 acres to the Jungle Safari. He says,
    Mohan Sahu of Khandwa who has lost 20 acres to the Jungle Safari. He says,”The jungle safari is affecting at least two villages.” Photo: Suvojit Bagchi.
  • A notcie on a wall in Barauda, one of the three affected villages says land is up for sale in a nearby village
    A notcie on a wall in Barauda, one of the three affected villages says land is up for sale in a nearby village

Inauguration of Naya Raipur, a city planned by the Congress government in 2002, is the biggest event in Chhattisgarh’s history since its inception in 2000. The city is spread out in three layers having a core area with a safari, golf course, government offices, film city, theme park, central business district, hospitals, housing societies, health and education complex and army cantonment spread over almost 20,000 acres.

Approaching the city, in the middle of a vast swathe of barren land, on a grass mound about 15 feet high, stands a platform with figures of two women and a man dancing, presumably to a tribal tune. A peacock with a CFL lamp hanging from its beak is watching them. The platform also hosts a tiger, a bison, a buffalo, and two birds.

The ‘installation’ was designed to mark the inauguration of a ‘jungle safari’ by Chief Minister Raman Singh last week. The safari, along with a botanical garden and a golf course, is among the most touted features of the new capital. Government officials believe that these are ‘mandatory’ for a modern city like Naya Raipur. Villagers who have lost their lands to the city and the safari, however, think otherwise. “It would adversely affect at least two villages, at a time when large scale deforestation is going on unchecked in north Chhattisgarh,” said Mohan Sahu of Khandwa village. Mr Sahu lost 20 acres of farm land to the safari.

An organisation of farmers who have lost their land – Naya Rajdhani Pravabhit Kisan Kalyan Samiti (KKS) – has appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee to cancel his scheduled visit to inaugurate the capital on Nov. 6.

Digambar Sahu (name changed) from an affected village, Baraud, lost 18 acres of farmland and now works for a builder in Naya Raipur. Last Saturday, as he was heading for work, few of the fellow villagers asked him why he was working for someone displacing the farmers. Mr. Sahu replied, “You refused a discussion five years ago. Why point a finger at me now?”

He explained that he and other the farmers were paid approximately Rs 6 lakh to Rs 12 lakh per acre as compensation between 2006 and 2012. “That is Rs13 to Rs 22 for each square feet of land,” he pointed out whereas real estate companies are now charging the consumers Rs 3000 per square feet of finished housing.

The government has banned sale of land in 27 villages of Naya Raipur since 2005. Farm land could only be sold to a government body, Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA). “We lost our livelihood and are paid Rs 15 per square feet. On the other hand, NRDA sold our land to the builders who are selling it at an astronomical price to consumers,” says Kamta Rathre, the secretary of KKS.

However, NRDA data suggests that till September this year more than 12,000 acres of land has been acquired mostly through ‘mutual consent.’ “We were threatened with confiscation of our land under the Land Act of 1894. Is that ‘mutual consent,”’ asked Geeta Yadav, sarpanch of Khandwa.

The CEO of NRDA, S S Bajaj denying the allegation, told The Hindu that the Government is not ‘making any profit’. “We gave an offer to the farmers at the beginning to get involved as partners. They refused and opted for compensation. In fact, cost of developing a city is much more than its existing land price. The government is incurring all costs and paid the farmers more than the market price.” The ‘Land Use Plan’ of Naya Raipur illustrates that at least 15-20 % of the inner core of the city will be up for sale for commercial activities.

There are other anomalies which are leading the farmers to believe that they have had a bad deal. Seventy-year-old Chaitram Yadav, whose land records show that he was cultivating an irrigated patch, was paid a lower compensation that stipulated for ‘non irrigated’ land. Several farmers complained about such anomalies, while Mr. Bajaj said these are ‘minor mistakes’ by local land revenue officers.

The Chairman of NRDA, N Baijendra Kumar, feels the land has been acquired ‘peacefully’. “We got good cooperation form the farmers. There is trivial resistance from few individuals and we hope to resolve it,” he said. Mr. Kumar insisted that the rehabilitation deal given to the farmers is ‘one of the best in the country’.

Meanwhile deep inside the villages, the peasant families are having sleepless nights. The local intelligence is routinely calling the peasant leaders to check their whereabouts. “I think we all will be picked up soon,” said a seemingly exhausted Kamta Rathre after a hard day’s campaign in the villages. The peasants have decided not to celebrate the inauguration of the new capital and will switch off their lights for a week to register their protest.

 

The Women Farmer’s Entitlements Bill, 2011


Agriculture

Agriculture (Photo credit: thegreenpages)

AS INTRODUCED IN THERAJYASABHA
ON THE11THMAY, 2012
Bill No. LVof 2011
THE WOMEN FARMERS’ ENTITLEMENTS BILL, 2011
——————
ARRANGEMENT OF CLAUSES
——————
CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY
CLAUSES
1. Short title, extent and commencement.
2. Definitions.
CHAPTER II
CERTIFICATION OFWOMANFARMER
3. Certification of Woman Farmer.
4. Acceptance of certificate as evidence.
CHAPTER III
LANDRIGHTS
5. Equal land rights to women farmers.
CHAPTER IV
WATERRIGHTS
6. Equal right to water resources.
7. No discrimination for irrigation purposes.
CHAPTER V
LEGAL ACCESS TO CREDIT AND OTHERAGRICULTURAL INPUTS
8. Entitlement of women farmers to get credits, loans and other financial supports.
CHAPTER VI
FUND FORSUPPORTSERVICES TOWOMENFARMERS
9. Establishment of Fund.
10. Women farmer friendly technology.
11. Market facilities.
12. Training and capacity building.
CHPATER VII
IMPLEMENTATION ANDMONITORINGAUTHORITIES, THEIRRESPONSIBILITIES
13. Responsibilities of Central Government.
14. Responsibilities of State Governments.
15. Responsibilities of local authorities.
16. Women Farmers’ Entitlement Board.
17. District Vigilance Committees.
18. Redressal of grievances.
(i)
CHAPTER VIII
PENALTIES ANDPROCEDURES
CLAUSES
19. Penalty for non-compliance of provisions of this Act.
20. Cognizance of offences.
21. Actions in good faith.
CHAPTER IX
MISCELLANEOUS
22. Overriding effect.
23. Power to give directions.
24. Power of State Government to restrict the application of the Act to certain Areas.
25. Power to remove difficulties.
26. Power of Central Government to make Rules.
27. Rules, regulations and schemes to be laid before Parliament.
(ii)
THE WOMEN FARMERS’ ENTITLEMENTS BILL, 2011

A BILL to provide for the gender specific needs of women farmers, to protect their legitimate needs
and entitlements and to empower them with rights over agricultural land, water
resources and other related right and for other functions relating thereto and for
matters connected therewith.

WHEREASwomen constitute more than fifty per cent of Indian farmers and about sixty
per cent of the workforce in the farming sector; and in view of the increasing feminisation of
agriculture as a result of out-migration of men, entitlements for women farmers are essential
for the future growth and health of agriculture, as well as protection of food security in an era
of climate change;

ANDWHEREASit is necessary to recognize and protect the gender specific needs and
rights of the women by empowering and entitling them with enforceable rights over agricultural
land, water resources, credit and other related rights;
ANDWHEREASthe Married Women’s Property Act, 1874 recognised the wages, earnings
and other property acquired by an married woman in any employment, occupation or trade
carried on by her in her individual capacity as her separate property; the Hindu Succession
(Amendment) Act, 2005 entitled the daughter of a Joint Hindu family governed by the
Mitakshara law, to become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son and
clothes her with the same rights and liabilities in the coparcenary property as she would have
had if she had been a son; the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 recognised the rights of forest-dwelling communities
to the forest land and other forest resources;
ANDWHEREASthe Government of India has recognized the special needs of women
farmers by initiating a “Mahila Kisan Shashaktikaran Pariyojana” programme under the
National Rural Livelihood Mission;

ANDWHEREASIndia is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1979 which calls for elimination of all forms of
discrimination of women by ensuring equal access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing
facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as
in land resettlement schemes;
ANDWHEREAS the Fourth World Conference on Women in September, 1995, in which
India participated, called for legislative and administrative reforms to give women equal
rights with men to economic resources, including access to ownership and control over land
and other properties, credit, inheritance, natural resources, and appropriate new technology,
etc. as embodied in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action;
ANDWHEREASit is considered necessary to implement the decisions in so far as they
relate to the women farmers’ entitlements under Article 253 of the Constitution of India.
BEit enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-Second Year of the Republic of India as
follows:—
CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY
1. (1) This Act may be called the Women Farmers’ Entitlements Act, 2011.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
(3) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification
in the Official Gazette, appoint.
2.In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—
(a) “agriculture” means and includes, all activities related to cultivation of
crops, animal husbandary, poultry, livestock rearing, apiculture, gardening, fishing,
aquaculture, sericulture, vermiculture, horticulture, floriculture, agro-forestry, or any
other farming activity carried out through self-employment, tenurial cultivation, share
cropping, or other types of cultivation including shifting cultivation, collection, use
and sale of minor or non-timber forest produce by virtue of ownership rights or
usufructory rights;
(b) “agricultural activity” means any activity related to agriculture;
(c) “farmer” means any person who is, individually or jointly with any other
person,—
(i) engaged in agriculture directly or through the supervision of others; or
(ii) contributes to conservation or preservation of agriculture related
varieties or seeds or breeds of farm animals; or
(iii) contributes through traditional knowledge to any type of innovation,
conservation or to propagation of new agricultural varieties or to agricultural
cultivation methods or practices or to the practice of crop-livestock integrated
farming system; or
(iv) promotes agro-processing, and value-addition to primary products.

Download the full bill below

women farmers bill 2012_English

5 Million Farmers Sue Monsanto for $7.7 Billion


Five million farmers are suing Monsanto over excessive royalty fees. (photo: Friends Eat)
Five million farmers are suing Monsanto over excessive royalty fees. (photo: Friends Eat)

 

By Anthony Gucciardi, Natural Society

06 June 12

 

aunching a lawsuit against the very company that is responsible for a farmer suicide every 30 minutes, 5 million farmers are now suing Monsanto for as much as 6.2 billion euros (around 7.7 billion US dollars). The reason? As with many other cases, such as the ones that led certain farming regions to be known as thesuicide belt, Monsanto has been reportedly taxing the farmers to financial shambles with ridiculous royalty charges. The farmers state that Monsanto has been unfairly gathering exorbitant profits each year on a global scale from “renewal” seed harvests, which are crops planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest.

The practice of using renewal seeds dates back to ancient times, but Monsanto seeks to collect massive royalties and put an end to the practice. Why? Because Monsanto owns the very patent to the genetically modified seed, and is charging the farmers not only for the original crops, but the later harvests as well. Eventually, the royalties compound and many farmers begin to struggle with even keeping their farm afloat. It is for this reason that India slammed Monsanto with groundbreaking ‘biopiracy’ charges in an effort to stop Monsanto from ‘patenting life’.

Jane Berwanger, a lawyer for the farmers who went on record regarding the case, told the Associted Press:

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production.”

The findings echo what thousands of farmers have experienced in particularly poor nations, where many of the farmers are unable to stand up to Monsanto. Back in 2008, the Daily Mail covered what is known as the ‘GM Genocide’, which is responsible for taking the lives of over 17,683 Indian farmers in 2009 alone. After finding that their harvests were failing and they started to enter economic turmoil, the farmers began ending their own lives — oftentimes drinking the very same insecticide that Monsanto provided them with.

As the information continues to surface on Monsanto’s crimes, further lawsuits will begin to take effect. After it was ousted in January that Monsanto was running illegal ‘slave-like’ working rings, more individuals became aware of just how seriously Monsanto seems to disregard their workers — so why would they care for the health of their consumers? In April, another group of farmers sued Monsanto for ‘knowingly poisoning’ workers and causing ‘devastating birth defects’.

Will endless lawsuits from millions of seriously affected individuals be the end of Monsanto?

By Anthony Gucciardi, Natural Society

06 June 12

 

aunching a lawsuit against the very company that is responsible for a farmer suicide every 30 minutes, 5 million farmers are now suing Monsanto for as much as 6.2 billion euros (around 7.7 billion US dollars). The reason? As with many other cases, such as the ones that led certain farming regions to be known as the ‘suicide belt’, Monsanto has been reportedly taxing the farmers to financial shambles with ridiculous royalty charges. The farmers state that Monsanto has been unfairly gathering exorbitant profits each year on a global scale from “renewal” seed harvests, which are crops planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest.

The practice of using renewal seeds dates back to ancient times, but Monsanto seeks to collect massive royalties and put an end to the practice. Why? Because Monsanto owns the very patent to the genetically modified seed, and is charging the farmers not only for the original crops, but the later harvests as well. Eventually, the royalties compound and many farmers begin to struggle with even keeping their farm afloat. It is for this reason that India slammed Monsanto with groundbreaking ‘biopiracy’ charges in an effort to stop Monsanto from ‘patenting life’.

Jane Berwanger, a lawyer for the farmers who went on record regarding the case, told the Associted Press:

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production.”

The findings echo what thousands of farmers have experienced in particularly poor nations, where many of the farmers are unable to stand up to Monsanto. Back in 2008, the Daily Mail covered what is known as the ‘GM Genocide’, which is responsible for taking the lives of over 17,683 Indian farmers in 2009 alone. After finding that their harvests were failing and they started to enter economic turmoil, the farmers began ending their own lives — oftentimes drinking the very same insecticide that Monsanto provided them with.

As the information continues to surface on Monsanto’s crimes, further lawsuits will begin to take effect. After it was ousted in January that Monsanto was running illegal ‘slave-like’ working rings, more individuals became aware of just how seriously Monsanto seems to disregard their workers — so why would they care for the health of their consumers? In April, another group of farmers sued Monsanto for ‘knowingly poisoning’ workers and causing ‘devastating birth defects’.

Will endless lawsuits from millions of seriously affected individuals be the end of Monsanto?

Scientist’s warn Assam could go Chhattisgarh way on farmer suicides


TNN Jun 3, 2012, 01.08AM IST

GUWAHATI: Agriculture scientist GV Ramanjaneyulu on Saturday said Assam could go the Chhattisgarh way in terms of farmers‘ suicides if the state government fails to implement concrete measures in protecting the interests of farmers.

The scientist was speaking at an interactive session titled “The Current Crisis in Indian Agriculture and the Way Forward” held in Cotton College State University, organized by its department of economics. He emphasized on the comparisons between Assam and Chhattisgarh in terms of production of different varieties of rice and engagement of tribals in farming and agriculture.

“What happened in Chhattisgarh was quite unfortunate because the state government had decided to introduce hybrid rice which almost made the traditional varieties extinct. Besides, there were many flawed measures introduced by the government which proved disastrous. Farmers have become an endangered species,” said Ramanjaneyulu, executive director Centre for Advanced Sustentative Agriculture, Hyderabad.

“That state has witnessed a large number of farmers committing suicide. But Assam has the lowest record of farmers’ suicide. However the situation could go wrong if the state government decides to introduce hybrid variety and Assam could suffer the same fate as Chhattisgarh. The government must put a check on farming by migrants as they tend to use fertilizers because they don’t have any bond towards the land,” added the scientist.

The scientist also took a dig at chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s recent announcement to allocate Rs 33 crore for organic farming by stating that until and unless there are some concrete policies regarding how and where to promote such farming, the entire money could go waste.

On the issue of green revolution being shifted to the eastern region of the country, Ramanjaneyulu said, “It needs to be properly addressed. If there are pesticides involved in agricultural fields in the upper-stream, then there are possibilities of them being disposed in the downstream. Assam has a rich history of producing different varieties of rice. But it has lost most varieties now.”

Documentary ‘Cotton For My Shroud’ on Vidarbha farmers bags National award


NAGPUR: “If a quarter million farmers kill themselves over a span of 16 years, then it is genocide and not suicide. The globalization of economies has given rise to a new form of agrarian warfare where seeds are the new weapons.” This observation formed the basis of the documentary ‘Cotton For My Shroud’ made by Nandan Saxena and his wife Kavita Bahl.

The 90 minute film, shot in the hinterlands of Vidarbha, which have earned the infamous sobriquet of farmer’s graveyard, has won a Rajat Kamal for the best investigative film at the 59th National awards announced in New Delhi on Wednesday. The film has been winning accolades since it was first released at Mumbai Film Festival in April last year, and has also received the Gold for best script at the IDPA in Mumbai in October 2011.

In a telephonic chat with TOI from New Delhi, Saxena says that he has been screening the docu-film at various forums and people have been stunned by its content. “The film is meant for both, victims as well as those who can change this dismal scenario. It is easy to blame the simple farmer for not managing his resources.”

“The cotton farmer is torn between aggressive marketing of supposedly ‘better varieties’ of transgenic crops by the state, and his traditional wisdom of low-cost and eco-friendly agriculture. He thus falls prey to the honey trap of Bt. The result is in an unending cycle of debt and misery.”

Narrated in the first person, the film looks at the macro picture while following the lives of three families. Saxena says that he learnt about the plight of the farmers in Vidarbha while researching water linked projects they were handling in Rajasthan. “It was so horrible that we began looking for more information. When we called up Kishor Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which has been drawing attention to these tragedies, he told us to check it out first hand. My wife and me arrived and began moving around in Yavatmal, Raipodh, Pandharkawda and Kolijhari, which were worst hit by these tragedies.” It was not easy for the couple to win the confidence of farmers. Saxena says that the families of victims were weary of media spotlight.

“We came without booking our return tickets.We had all the time and were willing to wait. Gradually, they began to open up,” he says. The research and first hand conversations helped them put together a narrative.

“There were two triggers for the suicides. The first at the time of sowing, when the cash strapped farmer is pushed to buy seeds he can ill afford, so he takes credit. The next is at the time of harvest, when he arrives in the market and realizes that he will not get the price that will enable him to repay the loan. That’s when the desolate fellow has no option but to consume pesticide.” Saxena,who admits to leftist leanings, says that once they had put together the film it was difficult to edit it, as they had to relive these heart wrenching stories once again. “But we overcame our emotions and released it in 2011.” Awards aside, the duo feels that true recognition would be when farmers stop taking their lives and sustainable agriculture becomes a policy.

Times of india, march 9,2012

More than 1000 farmers commit suicide every year in Bengal


KOLKATA, Jan 27 – Although the Chief Minister of Bengal has ruled out the recent farmer’s death in the state but according to the State Agriculture Minister, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, last year there were 1,200 farmer suicides, while in 2009 and 2010 there were 1,054 and 993 farmer suicides, respectively.

The CM‘s rejection came a day after Bengal Governor stated that farmer’s suicide is an ‘unfortunate’ incident. The CM claimed that there was only one farmer’s death since she came to power. There were reports of 26 such incident in last eight weeks alone.

Mr Bhattacharya, however, admitted that they were handicapped by severe fund crunch, adding that the poor condition of the state exchequer and failure to set up sale counters across the state delayed paddy procurement.

Although the government ruled out distress sale leading to farmers suicide at a mass scale, it has decided to take a special drive and conduct camps in the next one month to procure additional paddy.

The state food and supplies department plans to procure around 1000 metric ton of paddy through camps that would be held on 27 and 29 January. Similar camps would be held next month as well. Till now, the government has procured 3.67 lakh metric ton of paddy and is yet to procure 13 lakh metric ton. The Food Corporation of India targets a procurement of 4.5 lakh metric ton within September.

Ms Bannerjee also rejected the suggestion of CPI-M MLA that an all party team should visit the place. Congress and CPM, both, criticized this decision of Bannerjee.

By- Jitendra, Newzfirst at http://www.newzfirst.com/web/guest/

HRF statement on drought and farmers suicides


Press Release

Hyderabad —The Human Rights Forum (HRF) calls upon the government to bring about a comprehensive ‘Drought Relief Code’. It should encompass measures that must be implemented towards effective drought relief and mitigation. The duties of the State to the people affected by drought and the rights and entitlements of those who suffer from drought must be codified in this law. Such a code is imperative because governments continue to exhibit adhocism and tokenism in the matter of relief towards the drought-hit.

Over the past several weeks HRF teams visited 47 villages in 9 drought-hit districts of the State where farmers have committed suicide. While exact figures are difficult to obtain, it is our estimate that not less than 290 farmers have ended their lives in AP over the past three months, over 90 per cent of them from the rain-fed districts of Telangana and Rayalseema.

Most are small, marginal farmers and tenant farmers. Cotton farmers in Telangana and groundnut farmers in Rayalseema account for the maximum farm suicides. Farmers are taking their own lives principally because of the appalling state of institutional credit leading to excessive reliance on private moneylenders resulting in high indebtedness.

The drying up of public credit because of the ‘banking reforms’ is the single most important contributing cause of farmers’ suicides. Farmers also lack access to reliable and reasonably priced inputs and a remunerative price for their output. It is clear that the government has failed in its obligations on all these fronts thereby rendering farmers helpless when the rains were either delayed or failed like in 2011. Though the government knew of the impending crisis given subsequent crop failures, it did virtually nothing to avert it.

Apart from notching up the number of drought-hit mandals at periodic intervals, the government is doing precious little by way of concrete relief. Measures taken up so far are extremely inadequate. Even implementation of G.O 421, which provides for an economic and rehabilitation package to the family members of farmers who have ended their lives, is pathetic. The RDO-headed verification and certification committee is barely visiting the villages where suicides have taken place and going about its job. It must be remembered that for every farmer who has committed suicide, there are many others facing extreme despair. The present onslaught on the lives of the peasantry has come about because the government has jettisoned its responsibility to the farmers.

The government must at least now stop underplaying the extent of the agrarian crisis and initiate concrete steps to alleviate the situation. All cultivators, including tenant farmers, must be brought into the ambit of institutional credit. If these and other such concrete pro-small farmer measures are not forthcoming, there might be a suicide epidemic in the coming year. VS Krishna Md. Anwar (HRF State general secretary) (HRF State secretary)

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