Hyderabad: Claiming that more than 20 farmer suicides have taken place over the last 11 days among cotton farmers in Warangal district of Telangana, the Rythu Swarajya Vedika, a Telangana farmers’ association, began its three-day protest at Parliament Street in New Delhi from Monday along with farmers and families of those who have committed suicide.
The farmer protest is being held under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, in which about 1,500 farmers from both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are participating.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is also conducting a one-day protest on Monday in at Nalgonda district to raise the same issues along with asking for higher minimum support price (MSP) for farmers in Telangana.
“There was unseasonal heavy rainfall in the first two weeks of October, resulting in crop damage. Because of that the Cotton Corp. of India (CCI) is not buying cotton from farmers, stating that their yield has about 12% of moisture. And private traders are paying farmers anything between Rs2,800 and Rs3,500 against the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs4,320, knowing that the latter are left with no choice," said Kondal Reddy, joint secretary of the Rythy Swarajya Vedika (which is active in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh).
Reddy said that those who have gone to New Delhi for the three-day protest include members from 70 families affected by farmer suicides. “Though rainfall was not less this year, there were a lot of dry spells during the monsoon season which has also caused a lot of problems for farmers," he added.
In Nalgonda district, TDP leader Mothkupalli Narsumhulu will conduct a day-long protest in front of the district collectorate along with other party members to raise farmers’ issues, including suicides. The issue of cotton prices crashing was not unprecedented as the crop was sown on 49% of the total cultivated land this year, as farmers took to it on expectations of good returns keeping in mind last year’s prices.
For the first time since Telangana’s formation, the area of cotton cultivation in 2017-18 touched nearly 19 lakh hectares, which is more than 50% higher than the previous year’s 12.4 lakh hectares. Due to this, the state government had asked the Cotton Corp. of India to set up 59 additional procuring centres, apart from the 84 existing ones.
When asked about the issue of cotton prices crashing, an official from the agriculture marketing department, who was not willing to be quoted, said that the prices of cotton will improve during the second pickings of the crop in the coming days.
Kiran Kumar Vissa, a member of the Rythu Swarajya Vedika from Hyderabad who went to New Delhi for the protests, said that the protests began at around noon. Further course of action, if needed, will be decided in the following days, he told Mint.
Meanwhile, TDP leaders, including Mothkupalli Narsumhulu, Telangana TDP president L.Ramana and others, were detained by the Nalgonda police on Monday evening and taken into custody.