No Maharashtra govt compensation for cotton crop damage

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Cotton farmers will not receive government compensation following drought or drought-like situation, despite the fact that cotton is the main crop of Vidarbha. Maharashtra government has announced a relief amount of Rs 6,800 per hectare, which is capped at 2 hectares taking it to Rs 13,600 for farmers. This is more than the payout of Rs 9,000 by earlier standards, but covers only crops like soyabean, tur or paddy in Vidarbha. Most of the farmers grow both soyabean and cotton side by side. The cotton crop is also reported to be better this year. Farm activists, on the other hand, say compensation even by new standards is not enough, considering the overall losses.

Sources also say the compensation will be available only to farmers covered in the first round of survey. The final round was completed early this month which reported that 85% of the villages in Vidarbha are distress hit. A distress is declared when crop losses exceed 50% of the average yield. Officials executing the plan say there have been no instructions regarding cotton, so far.

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However, it has been learnt that the state is working out an aid package for cotton growers also. Cotton is linked with Vidarbha's agrarian crisis. Earlier, it was mooted to declare a bonus for cotton growers over and above the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 4,000 a quintal. However, it was seen that a large number of traders have taken advantage of the MSP scheme. Many farmers had shown output as much as 30 to 40 quintals in their land documents, presented at government procurement centres. Since MSP purchase is open to only farmers, it was seen that traders had fudged the former's land records in order to sell their stock through MSP centres, said Kishore Tiwari of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), a state government agency for farmers.

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Bonus may not be as effective now as many farmers have already offloaded their stock. A fresh survey is being carried out to assess the cotton losses. There are certain pockets in every district where cotton harvest has been low, said Tiwari. "It will be ensured that every farmer who has suffered losses in cotton will be compensated," he said.

Vijay Jawandhiya, a Shetkari Sanghathana veteran, said a farmer incurs an expenditure of almost Rs 1,000 an acre on soyabean crop. "The compensation should be enough to take care of the crop loan repayment at least. If cotton is also included, the amount may be enough," he said.

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In a nutshell:

1. Relief of Rs 6,800 per  hectare declared

2. Aid covers crops other than cotton

3. Reports of cotton crop better this season

4. Survey to assess cotton losses underway

5. Government plans separate aid for cotton

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