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Maharashtra government announces relief for cotton farmers

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced relief and financial assistance for cotton farmers in the state affected by the pink bollworm attack on the crop in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions. The CM made this announcement at the ongoing Assembly session in Nagpur. In addition to crop insurance and assistance from the government, farmers will also receive compensation from seed companies, state agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar said. Every cotton farmers whose crop has been affected by pink bollworm shall be given assistance from the government and not a single farmer shall die due to this crisis, he announced in the state Assembly. “Those farmers who are eligible to receive crop insurance will be granted the benefit of the scheme and seed companies will be told to pay compensation to farmers,” he said. The Relief and Rehabilitation Ministry has begun conducting panchnamas of cotton crop and farmers shall be given assistance through this medium. Fadnavis said that 5 lakh applications had come from farmers. Some may get assistance from all the three schemes — from the government, from the companies and crop insurance amount. “The panchnamas are nearing completion and we shall take decisions soon,” he said. With the crisis triggered by the attack of pink bollworms on cotton crop in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions becoming severe, opposition parties are now demanding Rs 25,000 per acre as compensation for framers. The leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde, told reporters that a compensation of more than Rs 25,000 is a must, and that he had personally written to the CM, when the Centre had warned about the pink bollworm attack, he said. The actual extent of cotton crop damage is still being evaluated. The chairman of Maharashtra government’s special task force on the agrarian crisis, Kishore Tiwari, has estimated the loss at Rs 10,000crore in Vidarbha and Marathwada. Tiwari said that the government should clarify the quantum of financial assistance to the farmers. Giving Rs 400-500 per acre as compensation is not going to help, he said. Pasha Patel, chairman of State Agriculture Price Commission, said that the actual cotton crops losses are still being evaluated and that the state government is willing to provide compensation to the farmers.
Preliminary reports suggest that farmers in Marathwada are better covered under cotton crop insurance than those in Vidarbha, he said. Patel suggested that the seed companies that have been making profits over the years must now take the lead and provide some monetary compensation to cotton farmers. Cotton farmers in Maharashtra are set to lose nearly 13 % of their output this year due to pink bollworm attacks on the standing crop in major production regions of the state. The textiles ministry estimates a 13% decline in the average cotton yield in Maharashtra with major crop losses in Yavatmal and Jalgaon districts. As per industry sources, around a third of Maharashtra’s cotton area were under attack by pink bollworm. Cotton farmers have voiced their concern over crop losses and have dragged seed companies to court seeking damages. The government has issued advisories to farmers to avoid third pluckings and burn up the remaining crop to avoid further infestation of pink bollworm.