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  • The Bandipur Brazil corridor

    The Bandipur Brazil corridor

    In Bandipur: dung sold at Rs 3,000 a lorry load.In Brazil: a ravaged coffee crop. Asks <font class='UCASE'>nitin sethi</font> : what s the relation?

  • Money does grow on trees

    My initiation into environmental advocacy began in the mid 1980s. My colleague Anil Agarwal was involved in a fight against the Karnataka government s proposal to give forest land to Harihar

  • Bountiful crop proves bitter

    There seems to be no end to sugarcane farmers' misery in the State who every year face the problem of excess production. The farmers this time have taken to the streets expressing their displeasure with the sugarcane package announced by the government. Karnataka stands fourth in the country in the cultivation of sugarcane but the State is yet to see a sugarcane policy or a scientific basis for fixing the minimum support price. The farmers blame the sugar mills, the factory owners in turn blame the government, the government feels that the mill owners and farmers are both at fault for not coming to a consensus, thus completing the vicious cycle. Elected representatives on their part keep using the sugarcane pricing issue to fuel anger among the farmers (to keep the vote bank intact) but there is no permanent solution to the problem. Deccan Herald presents a lowdown on the state of affairs from the eyes of various stake-holders. The sugar industry in Karnataka can be divided into two groups - unorganised sector which comprises of the producers of the traditional sweeteners such as gur and khandasari and the organised sector which consists of the sugar mills. Farmers' woes: *Dictatorial attitude of sugar mills. Last year a majority of mills refused to implement the statutory minimum price fixed by the government. The State government had directed all co-operative sugar mills to pay farmers Rs 1,200 for a tonne of sugarcane. Except two or three mills, others paid only between Rs 600 and Rs 800 a tonne. *No action was initiated against mills which did not follow the State government directions. *The dues owed to farmers by the mills exceed Rs 160 crore *The recently announced sugarcane package does not solve the problem of growers being offered a low price for their produce or the glut in sugarcane production. * No policy for use of by-products like molasses and bagasse Mill owners' take *The sugar market has fallen. Paying Rs 1,200 per tonne for sugarcane as demanded by farmers is suicidal. * Mills have been accumulating losses. *The recovery (sugar content) is less than 9 per cent compared to 11 pc in other states. Hence rates prevalent in other states cannot be implement . * There is no proper distribution of mills especially in the sugarcane growing belt * No scientific basis for arriving at the minimum support price The way out *A comprehensive sugar policy that spells out the cropping pattern. *Farmers could be allowed to take up production of jaggery on a large-scale to utilise the excess sugarcane. *Govt should announce minimum support price for jaggery at Rs 1,500 a quintal. The present price of Rs 600 a quintal is not remunerative. *Mismanagement of mills need to be curbed.

  • Tikait-led farmers' team meets Pawar

    Addressing concerns: Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Mahendra Singh Tikait addressing a mahapanchayat of farmers at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. Bharat Kisan Union leader Mahendra Singh Tikait on Wednesday led a high-power delegation of farmers' representatives from various States to meet Union Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar. The delegation sought relief from debts for farmers and higher minimum support price for wheat and paddy. "If the government is giving a tax holiday to Special Economic Zones, then why should there not be debt relief for farmers who are responsible for the food security of the country?' the delegation asked the Minister. Separately, an all-party delegation from Karnataka comprising, among others, Union Ministers K.H. Muniyappa, M.V. Rajashekaran, Oscar Fernandes, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha K. Rahman Khan and the former Minister, Ananth Kumar, met Mr. Pawar. They sought payment of sugarcane arrears to farmers and a higher statutory minimum price for sugarcane. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Tikait said they had asked for a loan waiver, higher remunerative prices and MSP for commodities. "The Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices must take into account the lease amount/cost of farm land farmers own and their families' labour input while computing MSP. It should include 50 per cent profit so that the farmers have some income in hand.' Mr. Tikait said the delegation

  • A good scheme, but not good enough'

    The two major farmers' organisations in the State, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and the Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS), have welcomed the loan waiver scheme for small and medium farmers announced in the Union Budget, but have made it clear that it falls far short of addressing the serious agricultural crisis that they say the State is in. "A positive step, but incomplete,' is how G.C. Byya Reddy, General Secretary of the KPRS, described Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's scheme that offers to waive the crop loans taken from commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative credit institutions by small and marginal farmers up to March 31, 2007; and for other farmers offers a one time settlement scheme on loans overdue on December 31, 2007 with a 25 per cent rebate if the remaining 75 per cent is paid. "The loan waiver should have been extended to all sections of farmers other than big landlords as it is only a very small section of small and medium farmers who get loans from banks. A majority of them borrow from informal sources as banks do not consider them creditworthy,' Mr. Reddy told The Hindu. Only 26 per cent of the total farming community is covered by institutional credit, he said. Input costs "Not bad but not good either,' KRRS president K.S. Puttanaiah told The Hindu. "The Budget will not stop farmers from committing suicide as it does not address the problem of increasing cost of inputs, labour and other expenses that are pushing up the cost of cultivation and of living for the farmers. There is no talk of an agricultural policy,' he said. ] According to him, an estimated 10 lakh to 15 lakh agricultural families would be benefited by a crop loan waiver of about Rs. 15,000 crore. "However, this is only a temporary solution, not a permanent one,' he said.

  • Loan waiver comes as a boon to farmers

    The Union Budget's proposal to waive agricultural loans will bring some relief for farmers of the State. The farmers, who benefited from the loan wavier scheme of the previous Janata Dal (Secular)-Bharatiya Janata Party government in the State, would again benefit from the Centre's loan waiver scheme. There are 60 lakh small and marginal farmers in the State, according to the Agriculture Department. The Union Budget proposal to waive farm loans will benefit those amongst them who have taken loans from scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks (RRBs) and cooperatives in the State. Of the 75.8 lakh farmers in the State, 36.55 lakh are marginal farmers holding up to one hectare of land. There are 28.13 lakh small farmers who have one to two hectares of land in their possession. The marginal holdings account for 48.2 per cent of the total holdings while small holdings account for 26.60 per cent in the State. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram offered a debt relief package f Rs. 60,000 crore in the budget (2008-09) to four crore farmers in the country. Under the one-time settlement scheme that will benefit large farmers, the government will give a rebate of 25 per cent on payment of outstanding loans. There are 11.11 lakh big farmers in the State. All agricultural loans disbursed by scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative credit institutions up to 31 March 2007 and overdue as on 31 December 2007 will be covered under the scheme. The implementation of the debt waiver and debt relief scheme will be completed by June 30. Indebtedness Indebtedness was one of the major factors for farmers' suicide and the agrarian crisis in the State. As many as 61.6 per cent of farmer households are indebted in the State against the national average of 48.6 per cent. In Karnataka, 73.5 per cent of farmer households who owned two hectares of land or less are in debt, according to the National Sample Survey Organisation (2005). Extended The Union Budget has proposed to extend the weather-based crop insurance scheme for the coming kharif season in the State.

  • If and where they do get water, it's not safe to drink

    For Rs 1.9 crore, three deep tubewells and a distribution network were set up in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district. Six years on, these wells supply arsenic-laced water to 14000 villagers.

  • Rs. 2,973-crore surplus Budget for State

    The Karnataka Budget for 2008-09 presented by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had no fanfare, no announcements of new schemes and no new "populist' initiatives.

  • Glitz that does not shine

    India has added two more swanky symbols to make it part of the first-world grade: in Hyderabad and the gleaming Bengaluru international airport.

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