Mumbai: Noted farm activist Kishor Tiwari today said the Maharashtra government should replace “killer crops” like sugarcane and Bt Cotton in the 14 districts of drought-hit Vidharbha and Marathwada regions in the state. The Farm Distress Mission, which Tiwari heads, has said it in recommendations which were submitted to the Chief Minister a day ago, he told PTI.
Terming sugarcane and Bt Cotton as “killer crops”, he said instead “food crops” like oil seeds, pulses, maize and sorghum should be encouraged with incentives and support price protection.
Stringent conditions should be imposed to curb the cultivation of rain-sensitive cash-crops like sugarcane and Bt Cotton which have over-exploited the water in the parched areas of the state and led to a man-made drought, he said.
“At a time when farmer suicides is a burning issue, Vidharbha and Marathwada regions are facing a drought and also need drinking water,” he said. Cultivation of water-hungry cash-crops like sugarcane and
Bt Cotton exacerbated the agrarian crisis, he said.
He also urged the state Government to provide additional Rs 10,000 crore for fresh crop credit. Farm credit, crop pattern and cultivation practises are the core issues of agrarian crisis, he said. “At present only 35 per cent of the debt-trapped farmers out of the four million distressed farmers in the 14 districts are getting fresh loans. Hence the panel has recommended to the Government to provide additional farm credit of Rs 10,000 crore to the distressed farmers,” he said.
Soil health card and soil moisture management will play a key role in reducing cultivation cost by half, he said.