After onions and tomatoes, now soybean gives farmers a headache

This year, “wonder crop” soybean has given farmers in Madhya Pradesh sleepless nights. A few months back, when drought-like conditions prevailed, panicked farmers spent money from their pockets to buy water. Now heavy rainfall has damaged 80 per cent of their crop

Mithilesh DubeyMithilesh Dubey   4 Oct 2019 7:52 AM GMT

After onions and tomatoes, now soybean gives farmers a headache

"What will my kids eat? How will they study? Should I continue farming? I am blank. I have no option but to commit suicide," said Dinesh Patil, a soybean farmer holding the damaged soybean crop in his hands.

"I sowed soybean in my five-acre landholding and 40-acre land, which I had taken on lease. Entire crop is damaged. It will take me years to pay my debts off," said Dinesh, who lives in Abgaon village in Harda district of Madhya Pradesh.

Like Dinesh, many farmers in the state are bearing the brunt of heavy rainfall, which from the past two months has been damaging soybean and urad crop. "I spent nearly Rs 10-12,000 per acre to cultivate soybean. I have suffered losses worth lakhs. If I take into consideration the profit I would have earned, the loss will be a huge sum," added Dinesh.

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Soybean, a wonder crop, as the farmers call it, has brought miseries to the farmers that they are talking about giving up on soybean farming. The incessant rain has damaged crop spread in 60 lakh acre land, informed the Madhya Pradesh government. Two lakh farmers have incurred losses worth Rs 9,600 crore. Even though these are rough estimates, one can gauge the amount of loss these farmers have suffered.

According to the Madhya Pradesh government, the state produces nearly 25 quintal soybean per hectare. Now, let's estimate the total loss suffered by Dinesh, who sowed soybean in 40-acre land, which comes to 16-hectare landholding. The government has fixed Rs 3,399 as the minimum support price for soybean. Had the produce been good, the total soybean production would have been nearly 400 quintal and if Dinesh would have sold the produce at a fixed price, he would have earned Rs 13.5 lakh.

Talking about the input costs, it would have been Rs 4.8 lakh (Rs 12,000 per acre* 40-acre landholding). If we deduct the input costs from the total earnings, then Dinesh would have earned Rs 8.7 lakh as total profit. Now, he is left with nothing.

Farmers are talking about giving up on soybean farmingFarmers are talking about giving up on soybean farming

Drought, heavy rains did the damage

Soybean is the chief crop of Kharif season in the state, where it is cultivated in 53 lakh hectare landholding. Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer of soybean (55-60%) across the country. Harda, Indore, Chhindwada, Narsingh, Sagar, Dewas, Damoh, Chhatarpur, and Khandwa districts in the state produce bumper soybean. But, in all probability, the soybean produce this year would not be as good as it was last year.

This year, when half of the country was reeling under severe drought, the other half was ravaged by floods. "It didn't rain in the beginning of the season. We panicked and bought water for irrigating our fields, which costed us a lot. Now, excess rainfall has ruined nearly 80% of our crops. Whatever is left would get damaged in the coming days because of rains. Our fields are inundated due to which soybean roots are rotting," said Narayan Patidar, who lives in Dhelanpur village in Nagda district of the state.

Mukesh Tiwari, a soybean farmer whose fields too are inundated, said: "In June, I sowed soybean in my 25-acre landholding. It was supposed to ripen in 80-90 days. But it has been more than 90 days. The fields these days are so inundated that we can't even step into them."

State received heavy rainfall

Madhya Pradesh received heavy rainfall this year. According to the India Meteorological Department, of the 51 districts, 22 received above normal rainfall. Eight districts are likely to receive heavy rainfall in the coming days. The IMD has issued heavy rainfall alert by the end of the month in Madhya Pradesh.

Mukesh, who lives in Paraspur village in Sanwer tehsil in Indore district of the state, said: "This time, worm attacks were unusually high. Our input costs went up. Whatever we have lost is gone, but if we have to sow something in the next season, we will have to hire labourers to get rid of the damaged soybean crops from our fields. That will also cost us a lot and we may not earn much profit in the next farming season."

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer's Welfare, soybean is grown in 113.3 lakh hectare land across the country. Of this, nearly 48% or 55.160 lakh hectares has been produced in Madhya Pradesh. In Maharashtra, soybean was cultivated in 39.550 lakh hectare landholding making Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra the largest producers of soybean in the country.

It is suspected that nearly 60-70 lakh acre crops have been damagedIt is suspected that nearly 60-70 lakh acre crops have been damaged

Ujjain is the largest producer of soybean in Madhya Pradesh. In Ujjain, soybean was cultivated in four lakh hectare landholding. As per the September 16 report of the IMD, the area received more than 67% rainfall, which destroyed soybean crops.

Dewas district in the state is facing similar situation. "I sowed soybean after taking loan from a moneylender. Not a single officer from the agricultural department has inspected our fields. The local MLA, Manoj Choudhary, visited us and consoled us by saying that he will conduct a survey of the area, but nobody has come so far," said Ghanshyam Patidar, a farmer, who lives in Vijay Nagar in Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

"Why shouldn't a farmer commit suicide? I thought that with the profits earned I would pay my debt off. But I lost everything," said Ghanshyam.

"We will not let our farmers suffer"

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath surveyed the flood-affected area and announced to give compensation to the farmers by October 15. He said that farmers who have lost their entire produce would get Rs 8,000-Rs 30,000 per hectare under Revenue Book Circular (RBC) 6 (4). He also said that if the Centre will not help us then the state government will give compensation from its exchequer to the flood-affected farmers.

According to the provision of RBC 6(4), farmers with landholding of less than two hectare and more than that will get a compensation of Rs 8,000-26,000 per hectare for 33-50% of the crop loss.

Similarly, for loss equivalent to 50% or more, a farmer will receive a compensation of Rs 16,000-30,000 per hectare. All the affected farmers would get compensation in their bank accounts by October 15. The chief minister announced that the farmers who have suffered loss in their wheat, gram, mustard, peas, masoor (red lentil) and Alsi (flax) fields would be given high quality seeds for the following Rabi season.

Under RBC 6 (4), the state government gives financial assistance to the loss of property, cattle, crops, and loss of lives. However, farmers are not happy with the government's decision. They say that the patwaris were given three-four days to conduct a survey. In the present circumstance, how will they reach fields?


Ram Inaniya, leader of Aam Kisan Union, said: "The government sent the patwaris to conduct a survey, but when farmers are unable to reach their fields, how will the officers set their feet on the fields then?"

He added: "The slabs decided by the government are marginal compared to the total loss. Our 100% crops have been damaged, so the government should have given compensation considering 100% loss. The government has not yet decided as to which farmer would get the Rs 30,000 per hectare as compensation."

In Madhya Pradesh, 22-25 districts were under the threat of heavy rainfall and floods whereas some parts of the districts have suffered the damage to their crops. Nearly 22-23 lakh farmers have suffered losses to their crops, said the report.

Kedar Sirohi, working president of Kisan congress in Madhya Pradesh, said: "It is suspected that nearly 60-70 lakh acre crops have been damaged. We have conducted a geographical survey. Usually, the sloping areas remain waterlogged, so the damaged done would be more in such areas. We adopted this method so that farmers who have actually suffered may get compensation."

"We are giving compensation under RBC 6 (4), which Shivraj Singh had terminated. We are giving the compensation amount in slabs. This is necessary because a farmer would receive compensation as per loss incurred," said Kedar Sirohi.

He added, "The Madhya Pradesh government doesn't have money. The previous government crossed its loan limit that it was authorized to borrow. The biggest challenge before the Madhya Pradesh government is that the central government is not giving us the Rs 32,160 crore, which is the share of the state. But we will not let our farmers suffer. We are also trying that apart from compensation our farmers should also get benefits under the Fasal Bima yojana. We are also making a team for this."

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