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Bt cotton proves ‘deadly' for farmers

S. Harpal Singh
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Twenty-three suicides reported in Adilabad district since November 2011

DISTRAUGHT:The family members of cotton farmer Namdev who committed suicide recently at Mangrud village in Bela mandal of Adilabad district.— PHOTO: BY ARRANGEMENT
DISTRAUGHT:The family members of cotton farmer Namdev who committed suicide recently at Mangrud village in Bela mandal of Adilabad district.— PHOTO: BY ARRANGEMENT

In a scenario dominated by Bt cotton, only those farmers in Adilabad seem to be safe and happy who have practically given up cotton cultivation. Many farmers, especially those with smaller holdings, are finding the economics of Bt cotton to be really deadly.

Some 23 suicides by cotton farmers have been reported in the district since November last year. In a majority of these instances, the farmers were caught in debt traps.

Take the case of farmer Umak Namdev of Mangrud in Bela mandal whose cumulative debts incurred during the last few years mounted to over Rs. 3 lakh. The money was spent as investment in the 11 acres of his field, seven of which were taken on lease, and towards family maintenance.

Leased lands

“Having found the four acres of land insufficient to provide for the entire family, we started tilling leased out lands since the last three years. The only way to offset the loss incurred in successive years was to cultivate more of the leased land,” revealed Vinod, younger son of Namdev of the circumstances that saw the cotton farmer ending up being caught in the vicious circle.

“In order to clear the bank crop loan of Rs. 70,000, my father had recently taken a private loan for the same amount at 10 per cent per month rate of interest. Though there is still some time to go before the banks start issuing crop loans, the pressure of debts was unbearable for him,” said elder son Devendra as he provided an insight into the economics fostered by Bt cotton.

“Bt cotton will leave the farmer in a shambles even if one indicator in the gamut fails. The farmer needs weather conditions and market to be in his favour in order to end the season in some profit,” opined Thakre Mangesh, president of local youth association. Like many of his ilk, Namdev found himself being forced to take up sowing thrice during kharif last year. His helplessness was compounded by costly inputs, failed yield and plummeting cotton price. “The ones who lease out the land are a happy lot earning between Rs.10,000 and Rs.15,000 per acre. The income of a ‘successful' tenant farmer will be far less,” Mangesh says.


  • In a majority of the cases, cotton farmers were caught in a debt trap

  • ‘Farmer needs weather conditions, market to be favourable to make profit'


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