‘A Report on Cotton Damage Crop in Haryana’

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Sadly indeed the cotton crop is damaged at a stage when farmers had already made the entire investment in the form of inputs like seed, fertilizers, pesticides, land rent and labour components.

Inderjit Singh (jitharyana@gmail.com)

Hopes of cotton farmers of a bumper crop have been dashed to the ground within a span of just 10 days. The standing crop well at the stage of ball formation is badly ruined by white fly infestation in almost entire cotton sowing area of Haryana. Other Kharif crops like Guar (cluster bean), Mung (pulse ) too have been badly hit. Guar is affected as an alternate host of White fly while Mung is affected by Yellow Mosaic Virus of which White fly happens to be a carrier.

The Damaged Cotton Crop Field.

A total of 7.37 Lakh hectare were sown with cotton crop which is almost 9 per cent more than last year. This is spread over ten or half of the districts of the state out of which it is one of the major crops in at least five districts along with Paddy, Bajra, pulses etc among the Kharif season. District wise breakup of cotton sown in hectares this season is : Sirsa 2.10 lakh, Fatehabad 0.72, Hisar 1.47, Bhiwani 0.88 , Dadri 0.35, Jind 0.67 and Palwal 0.23 . Though it is grown in Kaithal, Rohtak, parts of Jhajjar, Mahendergarh, Nuh also.
Sadly indeed the cotton crop is damaged at a stage when farmers had already made the entire investment in the form of inputs like seed, fertilizers, pesticides, land rent and labour components.
State Kisan Sabha is the first to take initiative in organising cotton farmers of the affected area and demanding special surveys for assessment of the losses . It constituted a team of experts and scientists to visit the fields and give report.

The Team of Kisan Sabha.

State President Phool Singh Sheokand himself a former Agriculture Development Officer accompanied by former Chief of Cotton section of the Haryana Agricultural University (HAU), Dr Rajbir Sangwan, Former Chief Scientist of Entomology Dr Roshan Lal, former Sub Divisional Officer Dr Kartar Singh Siwach visited several places on 1st Sept to verify the damage and talked to farmers. Later Dr Baljit Bhyan who had served as Horticulture Development Officer and who also runs Keet Pathshala to train the farmers in insect identification told that late and long spell of rains in the dry sandy soils were the first to be affected by para wilting of cotton plants due to micronutrients seeping to the subsoil level resulting into unaerobic condition around the root region of the plants.

It made the plant prone to pest attack and leaves along with underdeveloped cotton balls got blighted. He also revealed that initially the traders also misled the growers to spray combination of pesticides out of their own profit , though such combinations have proved really lethal. This time farmers had to do the sowing twice or thrice perhaps due to spurious seed sold to them.
The team of scientists constituted by at the request of AIKS told that the extent of damage was massive and was aggravating very fast every passing day.

The Kisan Sabha Team.

On 2 Sept a massive dharna was staged at Hisar secretariat by the Kisan Sabha district Committee which was also addressed by Phool Singh Sheokand among others. Bhiwani district committee is organising a mass demonstration on 5 Sept. Fatehabad district similarly doing on 4 Sept. Remaining districts are too actively taking up this issue of compensation.
A meeting of Kisan Sabha representatives from all cotton growing regions is being convened on 7 Sept at Hisar to chalk out co -ordinated actions.
The extent of financial loss is yet to be assessed but it is not going to be lesser than 2015-16, that was to the tune of over a thousand crore.
One of the major Kharif cash crop in districts like Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hisar and Bhiwani the cultivators are bound to be rendered badly bankrupt.

A significant section of small and landless farmers are those who have livelihood subsistence by taking others land on annual contract . The rates of contract are quite high and exorbitant in certain more fertile regions . The tenants had to pay the amount of rent in advance and the capital in the inputs has been already incurred as the cotton crop was ruined almost reaching at the maturity stage and so were the hopes of farmers. How the loans taken so far would be repaid is the moot question. Cotton as a cash crop had been associated with many other necessary family obligations waiting to be fulfilled around the Diwali festivities.

Team of Kisan Sabha

The crop was not only normal but bumper well till two weeks ago alas everything is blown away with widespread infestation within no time and the stranglehold of indebtedness of vast section of peasantry is consequently bound to be tightened. So far a word of any relief is heard neither from the state government nor from the insurance companies .

Let it be recalled that the premium for cotton was hugely enhanced by the insurance companies to the tune of more than two and a half time this season ie from Rs 600 to Rs 1650 per acre. Out of this two per cent is to be contributed by the farmers and rest of is the share from the state government and the centre. The factor of this exorbitant enhancement obviously with the approval of the government has acted as a deterrent and discouragement for many farmers to give their consent for insurance of their crop. Moreover , going by the past experience how the companies would actually compensate the loss is again a big question. So it is the governments responsibility to come to the rescue of farmers and agricultural labourers who too are dependent on the crops for their livelihood as the plucking is got done mainly by the farm labourers .
The state government has often been found to have a tendency to project the natural calamities losses at the minimum. Therefore, the officers who carry out the special survey would prepare the reports showing the crop losses well below the mark that makes the compensation admissible. So it is necessary that peasantry is mobilised on the streets to counter the manipulative tendencies of the government and its administration.

All India Kisan Sabha has , in this situation taken an early initiative and calls upon all Kisan organisations to join hands and move ahead with the demand for objective and truthful survey conducted in transparent manner.

The Writer is Vice-President, Haryana Kisan Sabha and a Former Research Scholar at HAU Hisar.

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