Considering the acreage of soybean, cotton and paddy, the aid would be a paltry Rs 941 per ha
Protests and agitation by Maharashtra farmers demanding better price for their farm produce seem to have gone in vain. Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan evaded the issue of raising minimum support price for cotton, soybean and paddy in the ongoing winter session of the the Legislative Assembly in Nagpur. Instead, he announced a Rs 2,000 crore aid package on December14. Under the package, farmers from Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra regions, who have lost cotton, soybean or paddy crops will be given hectare-wise aid, though, the exact amount of aid and mode of disbursal will be announced in a government resolution (GR) on the last day of the Assembly session.
- Cotton : 4.1 million ha
- Soybean : 3 million ha
- Paddy : 1.5 million ha
- Affected farmers : 15 million
- Cotton growers : 6 million
The much awaited decision follows weeks of bitter farmer agitations in all three regions seeking a substantial raise in minimum support price (MSP) of these three most important crops in the dry-land regions of Maharashtra. The Assembly session, which started on December 12, also saw farmers blocking roads, smashing the lights of ministers’ cars and being lathi-charged by police, while agitating for their long-standing demand for better MSP. People’s representatives, too, joined the agitation. Nana Patole, BJP MLA from Sukli Bhandara, was suspended for a whole year for burning bundles of paddy to call attention to the plight of paddy farmers in his Assembly segment.
Aid to Soybean growers restricted
The package, hailed by the chief minister himself as the “biggest ever aid package”, was greeted with disappointment by farmers and people’s representatives alike. Opposition MLAs have said that considering the acreage of the three crops in the state this year, the aid comes to a paltry Rs 941 per ha. What is more, aid to soybean cultivators has been restricted to only those tehsils where production has declined by 25 per cent.
MLAs from ruling Congress, too, expressed disappointment with the package. Congress state president, Manikrao Thakre, demanded that the chief minister consider revising the package. The protests against the paltry package saw two more BJP MLAs, Keshavrao Mankar and Pasha Patel being suspended for the duration of the session. Opposition MLAs have demanded that the per hectare aid be raised and the 25 per cent decline restriction be removed on soybean cultivators.
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