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Re: Farm policy

Dear Ari

The philosophy of this group (if you have not realized this by now ) is to
come up with policies to address AS MANY problems if not all problems in
all areas. Different people have different strengths and explore their
areas of interest. Those who have done research are likely to come up with
specific proposals for discussion. Some may come up with ideas for
discussion which may be picked up by others who may translate it into
specific proposals. It is not helpful for a person to simply throw a
newspaper clip and then stand aside and say "What's your solution". Nobody
is waiting for a trickle down effect.Be constructive. Put forward your
proposal. If the problem is beyond you, then
say so and seek suggestions from others. 

With the little information you have given, I make the following

1. Make low interest loans available to needy farmers through development

2. Ban illegel sources of private lending.

3. Ensure that no group or company holds a monopoly on fertilisers.
Encourage competition.

4. Random checks on fertilisers using chemical analysis ie. quality control

5. Prosecuting and blacklisting companies found faking fertilisers.

6. Upgrade the skills of farmers through NGO's.

7. Encourage Indian scientists to engineer a  genetically hardier version
of the cotton plant.


> From: Ari Sitaramayya <ari@Oakland.edu>
> To: Sanjeev Sabhlok <sabhlok@almaak.usc.edu>
> Cc: india_policy@cinenet.net
> Subject: Farm policy
> Date: Sunday, May 31, 1998 12:18 AM
> The posts of the last few days did help me understand a little bit of the
> philosophy of this group, at least that of Sanjeev. But theoritical talk
> can only help so much. It would be lot more helpful if I can get a feel
> for how this group would solve a specific problem, a real one. So let me
> give an example from today's list of problems, and I would appreciate
> comments.  
> All the material below is from newspapers of the last 3 months. A good
> source for numbers etc, if you don't believe me, is Vaartha, a daily
> newspaper available on line. 
> During the last 3-6 months nearly 300 cotton farmers committed suicide in
> the northern districts of AP. The background is this: Each farmer
> owned 2-20 acres of land. Vast majority of them owned 2-4 acres. In
> addition to their own land they leased 1-3 acres from others and planted
> cotton. It is expected that by the time the cotton is picked and sold
> the expenses would come to about 12,000 rupees per acre. Most of this
> would go to the purchase of pesticides. Cotton plants attract an unusual
> array of pests and need to be sprayed every other or third day. 
> Since the govt was not giving loans, the farmers borrowed money from
> private sources at the rate of 30-40%. No, that was not a typo. Most
> farmers do not have anything to put up as a collateral for borrowing
> 48,000 rupees (needed for 4 acres, for example). The collateral most
> used was the land itself, and jewellery from the wife and daughters. 
> Two major reasons why the farmers were driven to suicides were given as
> follows: (1) the pesticides which were used were ineffective. It is said
> that there was no control on the quality of the sold pesticides. Anybody
> with a white powder in a sac could sell it as pesticide. (2) the price of
> cotton, which was at 2300 rupees per bale, dropped to nearly 1600-1700.
> The average acre of crop was said to bring about 9 bales of cotton
> fetching about 20,000 rupees, and bringing a profit of about 8000 Rs per
> acre. But the dual problems (reduction in yield because of ineffective
> pesticides and lower price for cotton) inflicted losses on nearly ever
> farmer. 
> For a person who lives off the land the ambitions in life are rather
> simple: to pass the land on to the kids, and to keep the family fed. Now,
> the cotton farmer can't look into the eyes of his kids. He lost what he
> was hoping to give them. He can't look into his wife's eyes either. He
> just lost the jewellery her parents gave her. Suicide is not such a bad
> alternative for this guy now.
> The guys who gave the loans at 36% are very often the same folks who sold
> pesticides. I don't know for sure but I would not be surprized if they
> were also the cotton merchants who bought the crop. It would not be a
> surprise to find patriotic capitalist NRIs in this bunch.
> Now this is not a story told to gain your sympathy for the farmers. 
> Please tell me what you think is wrong with the system. What would you do
> to solve the problem. One of the lessons I learnt from my argument with
> Sanjeev is that the farmers would have to wait till prosperity tickles
> down from above. Please don't waste my time and yours with that. There
> will be no farmers left by that time. 
> Sitaramayya Ari.