ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Farmer Suicides

Unravelling Farmer Suicides in India: Egoism and Masculinity in Peasant Life by Nilotpal Kumar, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2017; pp xv + 309, ₹ 995.

Pesticide Usage by Cotton Farmers in India

With India emerging as a leading cotton producer in the world, and considering the large-scale adoption of Bt cotton cultivation, there is a need to understand the patterns of pesticide use by cotton farmers, especially as environmental, ecological, and health concerns surrounding pesticide use continue to be debated.

Cotton : Monopoly Mess

The Monopoly Cotton Procurement Scheme looks increasingly like becoming a millstone around the Maharashtra government’s neck. The cash-strapped state has not been able to pay farmers yet, though procurement of cotton began on November 7. The Shetkari Sanghatana leader Sharad Joshi has launched an agitation that has spread rapidly through the cotton bowl of Vidarbha, where the government also apparently failed to open most of the proposed procurement centres. Hundreds of farmers have resorted to rail and road traffic blockades and stonepelting, catching the government off-guard. To tide over the immediate standoff and to mollify the agitating farmers, the state government has decided to release Rs 500 crore through the apex state cooperative bank. Joshi, on his part, has agreed to put off his threatened hunger strike till December 1 to allow for further talks.

Cotton : Survival Struggle

An attack by the American bollworm pest is feared to have caused considerable damage to the cotton crop in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The news has distressing echoes of the incidents of 1998-99, when failure of the cotton crop due a bollworm attack resulted in suicides by hundreds of farmers in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. As early as July, Punjab Agricultural University experts who had visited the cotton-growing areas of the state had observed the pest feeding on the cotton plants. This year acreage under cotton has gone up in all the three states. In Punjab, cotton cultivation has expanded by almost 1 lakh hectares, in a shift away from paddy to diversify agriculture. Yet the estimate of cotton output for the 2001-02 (October-September) crop year is being revised downward from the record 17 million bales (of 170 kg each) forecast earlier.

Errors in Cotton Forecasts and Their Economic Implications

Inaccurate and biased information on acreage and production of cotton has often in the past led to misleading assessments of value addition of cotton leading to artificial shortages and production losses. New technology such as remote sensing based systems of estimating acreage and production which have been under development for some years, may well provide the necessary tools for more accurate assessments and so to better planning for cotton.
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