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Cotton price crash resulting in human tragedy in India
May '11
Three cotton farmers have committed suicide since Friday in the Vidarbha region in central India.

In speaking to this scribe from India at 11 AM US CST on May 15th, Mr. Kishor Tiwari, President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmer support group said, 2 farmers committed suicide on this past Friday and one farmer committed suicide on this past Saturday. Farmers in anticipation of higher prices were stocking-up the crop but the market has crashed in India resulting in human tragedy. Farmers are committing suicides due to farming debts and increase in cotton cultivation costs.

Despite record production expected this year in India which is pegged at 32 million bales (170 kg each), Indian government has imposed a quota of 5.5 million bales for export. Farmers are not getting international prices for their harvest. Recently, even traders in local markets are seriously affected, said Mr. Tiwari. Mr. Tiwari blamed the Ministry of Textiles, India for imposing the export quota.

Indian market has been crashing for the past few days. Good quality cotton lint price has come down by over 50%. On Friday, May 13th, quality cotton traded at Rupees 38,000 per candy (356 kg). Tiwari said, last month farmers were getting Rupees 7,000 per quintal (100 kg) for seed cotton, which has crashed now to Rupees 3,200 per quintal (100 kg).

Mr. Tiwari said that he will be leading a delegation of 100 farmers and few farm industry leaders to meet with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, the coalition group which runs the Government of India on May 20th in New Delhi. The group is planning on a hunger strike if the talks do not take place as planned.

When pressed by this scribe, Mr. Tiwari reiterated that it is a fact that three deaths have happened in the past two days due to cotton situation in the Vidarbha region in the State of Maharashtra, India. Vidarbha region constitutes about 25% of India cotton cultivation with 22 lakh (2.2 million) hectares planted on an average.

Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA

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