Twelve lakh farmers have filed complaints with the Agriculture Department against 216 private seed companies for providing sub-standard cotton seeds.
The farmers said that the seeds failed to counter the pink bollworm pest and led to drop in cotton production. They have sought compensation of ₹6,500 crore.
The Agriculture Department reviewed the total crop loss due to pink bollworm infestation at Mantralaya on Wednesday.
Kishore Tiwari, president, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission, said, “For the first time, farmers have registered complaints against private seed firms. We have encouraged them to submit applications and seek compensation. This is a result of our campaigns in areas in Vidarbha and Marathwada that were hit by pink bollworm infestation.”
During the winter session of the Assembly in Nagpur, the government had promised to compensate affected farmers as per the norms of the National Disaster Response Force.
The government also announced that cotton farmers would receive separate compensation from private seed companies and crop insurance firms.
Mr. Tiwari said, “The government had said that the NDRF would provide ₹18,000 as compensation for every affected hectare. This is the lower threshold, the compensation amount is expected to increase.”
Mr. Tiwari said productivity had fallen drastically after farmers used seeds provided by private firms. He said, “This was a economic disaster for farmers. They need to be compensated.”
Meanwhile, the Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the government has sought financial aid of ₹2,425 crore from the Centre to compensate farmers. The aid will be extended to farmers who have suffered 33% crop loss.
NDRF norms extend aid of ₹6,800 per hectare for non-irrigated land, ₹13,500 for irrigated land and ₹18,000 for horticulture.