The sangha has demanded compensation for farmers whose Bt cotton crops failed

The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha threatened to take “direct action” against transnational seed company Monsanto, by ransacking the company’s offices in Bangalore unless the government took action against it for distributing poor quality Bt cotton seeds in the State.

Addressing a press conference soon after daylong deliberations with office-bearers of the sangha’s State and district units here on Sunday, KRRS president Kodihalli Chandrashekar said that Bt cotton sown in 5.15 lakh acres across the State had failed to yield, leading to losses for cotton growers.

He said the State government must take the matter “seriously”, and make Monsanto pay compensation to affected farmers. If the government failed to do so, it should bear the responsibility instead and announce the distribution of compensation before the winter session of legislature began here. The government should bear this burden because none of the agricultural universities or scientists could develop indigenous cotton seeds other than Varalaxmi and DCH-32 brands released by the University of Agricultural Sciences a few years back.

If this demand was not conceded, KRRS will agitate, and along with at least one lakh farmers take out a 10-km rally from Rani Chennamma Circle and stage a dharna outside the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha. “The government should prepare to face our agitation,” he said.

Montsanto distributed poor quality Bt cotton seeds under the brand of Mahyco in this part of India. It is using native brands to distribute substandard seeds, playing havoc among farmers in India, he alleged.

SAP announcement

KRRS has demanded that the government announce the State-advised price (SAP) for sugarcane at Rs. 3,500 a tonne for recovery at 12.5 per cent, and a minimum of Rs. 2,950 for recovery at 9.5 per cent, by Monday. Minister for Sugar Prakash B. Hukkeri had promised to announce the SAP after Dasara; however, he said while quoting the Sugar Commissioner that the government would announce the SAP on October 30.

Maize

Mr. Chandrashekar said that the government should immediately commence procurement and explore export opportunities for maize, keeping in mind the encouraging yield this year. It should also announce a minimum price, between Rs. 1,510 and Rs. 1,560 a quintal, for paddy.

He criticised the Congress government for its “non-responsive attitude towards farmers”. Arecanut, coffee and rubber growers must face huge losses owing to diseased crops, but the government has yet to come to their rescue. The KRRS demanded the State government earmark at least 25 per cent of the annual budgetary allocations towards development of irrigation projects and schemes by utilising available water resources on war footing, so as to find a permanent and sustainable solution to the recurring drought problem in the State.

Karnataka is gifted with rich water resources, but the State has failed to make effective use of this, he felt.

More In: Karnataka | National