What's failing farmers
More than erratic weather, farmers find the government's relief and compensation mechanism stifling
After saving Kishori Prajapati from committing suicide, the residents of Majhguan Kalan village did something unimaginable. Living in the droughtprone region of Bundelkhand, they knew it very well how difficult it is to get compensation for crop damages. They knew the officials would not visit the village to assess the loss. So the next day, when they discovered the hails were still intact in the fields, they heaped those in a tractor trolley and marched to the district headquarters of Chhatarpur.It had an impact. Three days later the patwari, or village accountant, reached the village with his team. When Down To Earth visited the tehsil office in the last week of April, officials were disbursing compensation to affected farmers of Majhguan Kalan and Jaitpur—the only two villages in Chhatapur that were hit by the freak hailstorm of March 30. Yet a sense of betrayal was palpable among the farmers.
While reasons for such freak weather are riddled with meteorological mysteries, the ways in which the government calculates the damage and disburses compensation are not simple either.
As per the damage report prepared by the patwari of Chhatarpur, 128 of the 294 farmers in Majhguan Kalan faced over 50 per cent crop loss; 55 suffered crop loss between 25 and 50 per cent; and the remaining 111 suffered less than 25 per cent loss. As per the state government norms, small farmers (owning less than two ha) who faced 50 per cent crop damage would receive 15,000 per ha, while big farmers (who own more than two ha) would get
11,000 per ha. Those who lost 25 to 50 per cent of crops would receive between 9,000 and 6,500 per ha, depending on the farm size. Those who lost 25 per cent crop are not eligible for compensation.
Farmers in Majhguan Kalan, however, claim that most families in the village lost 70 to 90 per cent of the crop, and complain that leaving out 111 families without any compensation is unfair. “The entire village was covered with hails. So how could the damage be different for different farms,” asks Arjun Kushwaha, a farmer.
Farmers also complain that the compensation is meagre.On an average, a farmer in Majhguan Kalan harvests 3,500 kg of wheat from a hectare. Selling the produce at the minimum 1,200 per 100 kg, he would earn 42,000.Yet the maximum compensation they receive is 15,000 per ha, or 70 per cent less than the market value of the crop lost.