R. Nageswara (42) of Pottipally village in the mandal had cultivated cotton on 21 acres, one acre his own and rest taken on lease. With the cotton crop failing to bring in adequate returns, he committed suicide by consuming pesticide on his farm on March 4.
The front yard of his house has a pile of plastic bags stuffed with the crop that was harvested from the 21 acres he had cultivated. Nageswara’s 65-year-old father Eswarappa, is now trying to help the family come to terms with the loss of the head of the family.
Majority of the farmers in the mandal are tenant farmers who have taken on lease four or five acres and more than six farmers have ended their lives in the last one year — one every other month.
The tenant farmers are unhappy with the government’s Crop Investment Support Scheme and question the rationale of extending crop assistance to only land owners and not the tenant farmers who are tilling the land.
“We are the ones who are taking all the risk. We took land on lease, loans on interest from moneylenders, invested in the crop and are praying that Mother Nature does not fail us. We get a return on the investment only if it rains on time, the seeds are not spurious and fertilizers and pesticides are available on time. While we do all the work, the landlords enjoy the lease amount and now they are also going to get ₹ 4,000 per acre per season from the government. Is it right on the part of government?” asked Dakur Mallanna, a farmer of this village.
“The lease of land is a private affair between the land owner and the tenant farmer. If a farmer cancels the lease or tenant farmer leaves the land who is responsible for that? In which way is government connected with that?” Minister for Animal Husbandry Talasani Srinivasa Yadav said here recently justifying the government’s decision to exclude tenant farmers.
“Government has been taking us for a ride intentionally as the tenant farmers are not united. It has to evolve a mechanism where the rights of farmers as well as tenant farmers are protected instead of trying to escape from its responsibility,” commented another farmer Ch. Shekhar.