Losses mount, crops rot: Adilabad Jowar farmers stare at uncertain future as government delays procurement

Forget profits, the farmers are not even able to reap whatever costs they incurred in the cultivation. This year, the government has announced an MSP of Rs. 2,780 but has not yet entered the market to procure. The market price still looms around Rs.1,500 to Rs. 1,800.

By Nimisha S Pradeep  Published on  9 Jun 2022 11:50 AM GMT
Losses mount, crops rot: Adilabad Jowar farmers stare at uncertain future as government delays procurement

Hyderabad: Jowar (or Jonnalu in Telugu) farmers of Adilabad finished their harvesting in April and May this year. Since then they have been waiting for the government to procure their yield. They waited and waited. As weeks passed by, they were pressured more and more to sell because of their need for money.

Laborers who worked in their fields started demanding their wages. The sky was also turning black. That is when traders from nearby districts like Nirmal started sending their men along with vehicles to the villages to collect the yield from farmers. When they came to the village, the laborers started protesting in front of the farmers' houses urging them to sell the yield at whatever price the trader was ready to buy it at. The traders took the yield and left the village. But the farmers' problems did not end there. They sold off their yield, and compensated the laborers to some extent but are left with nothing except their owing debts to money lenders.

This is not an isolated case in Adilabad. This situation is faced by Jowar farmers across Telangana. Due to the Telangana government's delay in procuring Jowar at MSP, the farmers are forced to sell it off at whatever price the market demands.

Forget profits, the farmers are not even able to reap whatever costs they incurred in the cultivation. This year, the government has announced an MSP of Rs. 2,780 but has not yet entered the market to procure. The market price still looms around Rs.1,500 to Rs. 1,800.



Following the Central government announcing an MSP of Rs.2,430 for Jowar for the year 2018-19, the Telangana government decided to procure Jowar for the first time. Since then, data shows that many farmers have moved from other crops to Jowar expecting better returns.

According to MarkFed, the nodal agency for procurement of crops like Jowar and Maize in Telangana, the procurement of Jowar has increased significantly in the last three years. In Adilabad alone, in 2018-19, 23,956 quintals of Jowar were procured, in 2019-20, 45,646.23 quintals were procured and in 2020-21, 1,81,543 quintals were procured. Agricultural Department data also stated that around 31,346 acres of Jowar have been cultivated in Adilabad alone in 2021-22.

In 2020-21, 1,81,543 quintals of Jowar was procured by MarkFed in Adilabad. However, the procurement had started very late leading to loss. Fearing rains, farmers sold it off to middlemen at throwaway prices.

"There was also a farmer suicide of a Jowar farmer reported in Baoth last year," says Sree Harsha Thaneeru, who works at KisanMitra, the farmer's helpline, and closely works on farmers' issues.

It is important to remember that last year, there was a lot of delay in procurement. It was only after farmers' protests across Telangana, a PIL filed by Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV), an organization working for farmers' rights, and the High Court order that the state agreed to procure.

A lot of farmers have already called to KisanMitra sharing their anxiety around the delay in the government's procurement of Jowar, says Sree Harsha.

These farmers urge the KisanMitra team to do something about it. The KisanMitra team approaches the local administration to push for procurement.

"The Markfed Department and District Collectors have written letters to the state government and they are waiting for the government's order to start procurement," says Sree Harsha.



Why government intervention is important

The MSP has increased from Rs.2,620 in 2020-21 to Rs.2,780 in 2012-22. This is a marginal increase. What's the point if it is not implemented. The crops are not procured on time?

Sreeharsha explains how government intervention can bring a significant change in the market. Currently, the market price of Jowar is between Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 1,800. "Once the government enters the market with the MSP of Rs.2,780, it signals the other traders in the market to increase their prices. So, MSP becomes a reference price and automatically pushes the market price up," explains Sree Harsha.

Sree Harsha adds that government intervention also can prevent unnecessary diversion of money to the traders and cheating of farmers. "Once these traders buy the yield from farmers at throw-away prices, they, in turn, sell it to the government in the name of the farmers at MSP when the government starts procuring. The trader even gets the farmer's passbook and other documents from him assuring him some Rs. 500 and sells it in the farmer's name," he says. The government, according to him, is delaying the process to get rid of as many farmers as possible.

Do the farmers get any margin?

KisanMitra had calculated the average profit earned or loss incurred, considering the cost of cultivation, market price, and MSP (Rs.2,780) in 2022. According to the data, the total cost excluding own (farmer's and his family's) labor is around Rs.16,340. The average yield per acre falls between 10 to 12 quintals. Let's take the market price as Rs.1,600. If on average, a farmer can produce 10 quintals of Jowar, he gets Rs.16,000 in the market which leaves him with a loss of Rs.340. If the government pitches in, he would earn Rs.27,800 which gives him a profit of Rs.11,460. This is the difference the government can make in the market.



Credits: KisanMitra Team


Millet as an alternative

United Nations has announced 2023 as the International Year of Millets to encourage the cultivation and consumption of millets all over the world. Millets are a sustainable, alternate crop, good for the land and health of people. It is a less intensive crop requiring less fertilizer, labor, etc. It is a healthy food that is a part of the local diet in Telangana. Following the government's delay in procurement of paddy and other crops like Cotton being hit badly last year, many more farmers have shifted to Jowar cultivation. At a time when there is a hue and cry over millets the world over, it is high time that the Telangana government intervene and not let down the Jowar farmers in the state.

Photo Credits: KisanMitra Team

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