MAHARASHTRA, India — Negative growth in the farming sector has crippled the Indian state of Maharashtra for the past three years. Climate changes and fluctuating weather patterns have resulted in income declines among farmers in Maharashtra, who now work under immense pressure. According to the National Sample Survey Organization, the average monthly income for farmers is Rs 6,246 per month, or around $96.
Located in the western region of the country, India’s third largest state has the highest farmer suicide rates. Between October 2015 and June 2016, 1,417 farmer suicides were registered in Maharashtra. Many farmers in the state suffer from diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, and an estimated 15,400 farmers died between 2003 and 2012.
The government has played an active role in providing grants for farmers, but the application time frame is insufficient.
The 2016 drought seriously affected farmers in Maharashtra, resulting in a low price elasticity of supply, a term used to measure the price responsiveness to changes in quantities supplied. This often causes drastic swings in revenue for producers. Sugarcane cultivation is heavily impacted by this unpredictable phenomenon.
A plummet in the price of onions has also caused considerable stress among farmers in Maharashtra. Imposing a minimum pricing strategy could help alleviate the problem. Unsold goods could also be bought with the intention of securing them as buffer stock.
Despite the surge in rainfall in some parts of Maharashtra, due to falling onion prices, some farmers took up the production of sugarcane. This decision is rife with uncertainty, as climactic conditions may well change.
In addition to this, cotton farmers in Maharashtra were adversely impacted by Monsato’s recent call to withdraw its application for the new seed Bollgard II Roundup. Costs of production, including seed and pesticide prices, have escalated this year.
Mediating the pricing of cotton proposed by producers and sellers is vital. Cotton farmers’ produce is often exploited at the mills, where buyers purchase it for meager amounts and turn around to sell it for exorbitant prices.
A viable solution to this conflict is to bolster farmers’ cooperatives in Maharashtra and promote their inclusion. Introducing more structural reforms will help cooperatives support farmers and help farmers plan financially, especially during periods of price volatility.
The Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation Credit Project launched by the World Bank aims to fortify India’s key agricultural sectors through loans and investment. Similarly, Chetna Organic, a development intervention for smallholder and tribal farmers, is helping farmers achieve higher profits through fair trade programs.
In addition to this, a new plan, Narendra Modi’s Pradhan Manthri Fasal Bima Yojna, is aiming to protect farmers against the potential of crop failure. Current conditions have caused farmers in Maharashtra to work under considerable stress and pressure, but strategies like these may help alleviate it.
– Shivani Ekkanath