Cotton Pod Story – The Loss of White Gold in transit

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Yavatmal District 5
Yavatmal District 5
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Where’s my Pod?

My journeys across Vidharba saw me look at farmers lives a bit closer than my friends back home in Hyderabad. I often interacted with farmers to better understand their world. I asked a farmer to share his experience of farming cotton and I was surprised, back in the city what we get to see or hear is far from what happens on ground…. Here it is from one such farmer in Yavatmal District which is also known as the Suicide Capital of India.

End Summer I begin my work… till the dry soil and stand by for nature to take charge. The first rains bring in much awaited cheer!! I quickly get to work. I pick up the bags of seeds that was recommended to get the best yield.. and plant them. Now I wait anxiously for Nature to continue it bounty and soon enough the saplings sprout out.

Yavatmal District 1
Yavatmal District 1

The rains disappear within days of the sprouts shooting out and alas… within a few days the sprouts dry up and I am back to square one. Now I will have to dig into the reserve to ensure I have new set of seeds when Rains come back. In a couple weeks the rains do make a comeback and I plant new seeds which sprout out again in a short time… the rains continue and my crop is on its way!!

The plants have grown up nicely and so have my troubles. My farm is in the vicinity of the Jungle and Blue Bull, Spotted Deer and Wild Boar start raiding my farm. My nights now shift to the Farm where I sit in a small Machan and stay up all night trying to keep the animals away from my farm. I bought a drum for this purpose and beat the drum all night to scare them away. My fellow farmers who could afford bought a battery powered speaker to play loud noises to scare the animals away. Some tied old sarees to keep the animals away. By this time my 2nd crop Tur Dal has sprouted and increased my troubles as the animals love this plant. For three months I spend sleepless nights to keep the animals at bay escaping snakes and scorpions and all sorts of other deadly creepy creatures.

Yavatmal District 2
Yavatmal District 2

The coming weeks are life and death for many of us farmers. My plants have started flowering and few of them have developed the “fruit”. One of my fellow farmer was not that lucky. His plants did not flower. The seeds were bad and he has been wiped out. We all sat to give him hope that things might change but unfortunately he was too depressed and committed suicide. This is the scariest part of our lives. He left behind his wife and kids who had nothing to look to as the land was leased and they did not own it. The farmer had left behind loans that the family will now need to take care of. I prayed hard that night. I asked God to ensure all our crop comes out good with high yield.

The fruit soon turn dry and start opening up revealing white gold. My face was lit up. I was happy as it seemed this is going to be a good year!! Weeks went by and it was getting close to the first crop when we saw another tragedy. One more fellow farmer had committed suicide as the fertilisers were in effective and his crop was destroyed by pests. Another family had lost its bread winner. Time went by and I had managed to harvest the first round of Cotton but the yield was a fraction of what it normally was and to add salt, Cotton was in good demand and the prices were high. I went ahead and sent the harvest to the market.

Yavatmal District 3
Yavatmal District 3

Just last year I managed to harvest a bumper crop but luck was not in my favour as the demand was low and I got a fraction of what I expected. This year the situation was the other way around, the rates were high but the yield low. I went back home understanding that I managed to make atleast something unlike a few of my unlucky fellow farmers. I was hoping the second round would improve and I would have a higher yield. The second yield and third too were discouraging and I was looking at tough times ahead. I barely managed to get back my investment. However some fellow farmers had lost a lot… some of them their lives. While coming back from the Cotton Market I head a faint voice and stopped to check where it was coming from. It was one of my Cotton Pod lying on the roadside.

Yavatmal District 4
Yavatmal District 4
Yavatmal District 5
Yavatmal District 5
Yavatmal District 6
Yavatmal District 6

 Soon I heard a few more voices and realized a lot of my pods were lost enroute to the market and that too in a market where the price was high L. I could see thousands of pods on the roadside. They had lost the race to reach the Mill. These Pods are the unluckiest as they won the war against rain, pesticides/fertilisers, wild animals but could not win over human negligence.

This was a farmers story in short. I could never have imagined what a farmer undergoes sitting overnight in pitch darkness amidst raiding wild animals to produce for us city dwellers to consume and how thankless we are in realizing the efforts that go into producing the rawmaterial for the many things that we consume. I never knew that at every stage from bad seeds to ineffective fertilisers/pesticides to yield to minimum support price every step is a life changing event for the cotton farmer. While he was sad with loss of his pods enroute to the Mill, I wondered what happens to the finished products back in the big cities. I remembered the amount of clothes we waste in the cities… shoes, linen, lingerie… and then to realise that the very person who had with his sweat grown this crop ends up getting a pittance and in some cases ends up committing suicide. Today my respect for the farmer has skyrocketed and the next time he asks where is my Pod? I can tell him I am wearing it.

Uday Krishna Pedireddi - The Author
Uday Krishna Pedireddi – The Author

Author : Uday Krishna Peddireddi a noted environment and nature activist from Hyderabad,India.

About Post Author

Antara Tripathy

Chief Editor & CEO of IBG NEWS (09/Aug/2018-Present), Secretary of All Indian Reporter's Association,West Bengal State Committee. Earlier Vice President of IBG NEWS (01/Jan/ 2013-08/Aug/2018). She took over the charge from the Founder Editor of the Channel.
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