Loans, substandard seeds lets farmers down in Bihar

Forty-year-old Jagdish Sharma, a small-margin farmer at Katihar in the Kosi belt, had borrowed Rs 15,000 from a money lender. Having seen deluge in 2008 and drought in 2009, Sharma was quite cautious this time. Instead of paddy and jute, he opted for maize cultivation because of the high yield the crop ensured.

Sharma had thought that he would repay the borrowed amount once the crop was farmed. That’s why he accepted the money lender’s condition for a 7 per cent (84 per cent annually) loan. But the crop failed. The maize that he had farmed was without kernels, hollow from inside.

Distressed and dejected, Sharma committed suicide by consuming poison. “The maize killed my husband,” said his wailing wife Champa Devi.
In a similar incident, Purnia-based Md Nazim and his wife consumed an insecticide after the couple found that their maize crop had failed, and they had thousands of rupees to repay the money lender.

As soon as they started vomiting, alert villagers rushed them to hospital, and saved their lives. “The maize that I had raised after borrowing money failed me. The kernels were hollow from inside. The crop won’t fetch me a single penny,” lamented Nazim, recuperating from the extreme step he had resorted to.

But then, Nazim and Sharma are not the only farmers who are ruing their fate. Yadavendra Choudhary of Purnia, too, found to his dismay that the maize crop had failed. “I had sowed maize seeds at the right time, and followed all the suggestions made by the agriculture officers. Still, what I have on my 15 acres are stalks,” said Choudhary, who has appealed to the government to book all those companies which were selling poor quality of seeds. Purnia District Magistrate N Sharavan Kumar, who was aware of the problem, said the report submitted by the agriculture officer confirmed that poor quality of seeds had led to the crop failure.

Third time in a row
Purnia, which was one of the badly hit districts during the Kosi floods in 2008, has 12,225 hectares under maize cultivation this year. But the crop failure for the third consecutive year is likely to break the backbone of farmers.
“I will raise this issue in Parliament. Besides, I will also talk to the Bihar government for the speedy redressal of the problem of poor quality of seeds,” said BJP Lok Sabha member from Kaithar Nikhil Choudhary.
DH News Service

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