Bt cotton seed farms spring up in border villages
|Farmers from Andhra Pradesh take up cultivation
Many farms in Sedam and Yadgir taluks
These allegedly employ child labour
KADCHARLA (GULBARGA DISTRICT): Hundreds of acres of irrigated lands in villages in the district bordering Andhra Pradesh have been converted into production farms for Bt cotton seeds.
A seed company based in Mahbubnagar district has been helping farmers based in Andhra Pradesh take irrigated lands on lease from local farmers for cultivation of Bt cotton seeds on a large scale.
Bt cotton seed production farms have sprung up in village after village in Sedam and Yadgir taluks bordering Andhra Pradesh. These production farms are also allegedly employing child labour. Child labour is not only cheap but also available in plenty in these villages due to abject poverty and illiteracy.
Balamani, a 13-year-old girl hailing from Mudhol village in Sedam taluk, is a farm labourer in a seed production farm in this small village. Balamani says that she is paid Rs. 20 a day as wages. Like Balamani, several children are made to toil in the fields for a paltry sum, while the wages paid to unskilled agriculture labourers here range from Rs. 60 to Rs. 80 a day.
Similar stories of gross exploitation can be heard in almost all the villages including Kadihal, Venkatapur, Chandapur, Krishnapur, Mallabad, Ribbonpalli, Pakal, Shankar Rajapur, Adki, Motakpalli in Sedam taluk bordering Andhra Pradesh and villages in Yadgir taluk.
Farmers from Andhra Pradesh had earlier made a beeline for the command areas of the UKP and Bhima river belt in Shahapur, Surpur, Yadgir and Jewargi taluks in Gulbarga district and illegally cultivated banned paddy and chilli crops.
Enquiries reveal that although the seed company is not directly involved in the production of the seeds in the agriculture farms, it gives generous incentives to farmers who establish seed farms with an assurance to buy back the seeds at a remunerative price from them. A representative of the company is also designated to the individual farms to monitor the cultivation.
Under constant watch
Farmers who established the farms were reluctant to speak. One farmer said that the seed company purchased seeds from them by paying remunerative prices after harvest. Right from the land preparation to the use of the fertiliser and pesticides, the company keeps a constant watch, the farmer said.