Maharashtra farmers demand higher price for cotton

Nagpur, Oct 24 (IANS) Farmers from Vidarbha and Marathwada regions will hold Maharashtra’s first ‘Kapus Parishad’ (Cotton Conclave) here Oct 26 where they will demand higher prices for cotton, an activist said here Sunday.

Organised by NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), the conference will seek the government’s intervention in increasing the prices of raw cotton from the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs.3,000 per quintal to Rs.4,500 per quintal.

‘Cotton is the biggest cash crop grown in Vidarbha region and some parts of Marathwada and Khandesh. The crop’s price virtually decides the fate of three million families in Maharashtra, the biggest cotton producing state,’ said Kishor Tiwari, president of VJAS.

Tiwari said the central and the state governments have indicated that they would not be in a position to pay over Rs.3,000 a quintal as the minimum procurement price, a rate fixed two years ago.

‘But the price is unfair as input costs have gone up in the last two years and so is the inflation. Open market prices are already ruling at over Rs.4,000 a quintal,’ he said.

‘While there are clear indications that prices may firm up in international market mainly because crops in Pakistan and China have been ruined due to floods, the farmers here could take advantage of the situation and export cotton to the countries like China and Bangladesh, where there is high demand for short staple cotton that we produce,’ Tiwari said.

‘It has to be essentially understood that if the farmers will not to able to pay back the debt, there will be more farmer suicides,’ he added.

Demanding that the MSP be hiked to Rs.4,500, he said such a step could improve the state’s economy too.

The conference is expected to be attended by 5,000 widows of farmers and 20,000 farmers from Vidarbha and Marathwada regions. Advocate Nurup Reddy, leading activist of Separate Telangana movement and convenor of Telengana Vikas Kendra, will be the chief guest.

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