Raju and Kantharaju from Tannenahalli in Tumkur district of Karnataka (Transcript)

Kantharaju: Farmers’ story is just this, if it rains we can harvest else there is nothing, we face
drought, the farmer has to do something to survive. We are not able to cover basic farming costs,
manure, labour, tractor hiring, the costs are too high. With all of this, the farmer can never prosper.
He has been fighting nonstop but has not found justice and never will he find it. The farmer should
not prosper, he has to keep slogging and they will continue enjoying. There is a saying, buffalo
slogs, and the bull enjoys, that’s what that state is. We are the buffaloes who keep at it. No matter
which government is elected there is no difference, the government just says that they are pro
farmers’ governments but the costs keep rising. The petrol and diesel costs have gone up. If we do
get power it’ll be for about four hours and that too single-phase or low voltage. The farmer is just
surviving, he’s barely alive. They are talking about the new farm laws and minimum support price (MSP), the farmers are protesting for over 70 days, highways to Bangalore are blocked, and Modi says he’ll not take the laws back. Farmers need subsidy on manure and seeds. The costs of the pesticides have gone through the roof, you can take a person to a doctor but you can’t buy pesticides, I don’t know if it’s the factories or the middlemen who are the reason for the high costs. A visit to a doctor might cost Rs 500 but buying pesticides for an acre of land would cost Rs 5000/10000. We use organic manure but that’s not enough. We have to use pesticides otherwise we don’t get a good harvest and cannot sell it in the market at a good price, the market cost is very low anyway. I grow tomatoes, rear silkworms, and grow beans but the costs vary, today it’s Rs 10 tomorrow it'll be Rs 5. The farmer is tired, there’s nothing left of him except for bones, look at me, completely beaten. The farmer might own ten acres but he will not have a cloth to wrap around his dead body. The farmer will have to take a loan of Rs 1000 from a rich person and buy the cloth to wrap his father in, that is today’s farmers’ life. The pain will remain, they’ll never allow the farmer to prosper.

Raju: We are never guaranteed of how much we will get, we might recover our labour costs or
nothing at all. Today’s MSP the government has fixed it to Rs 3300, but if we ask for the MSP, they
require all land documents, if the land is my father’s or my grandfather’s name then I will not get
the price, the title deed holder must be alive and if the deed holder cannot go then we have carry
him or take him somehow and show him to the officials. Which normally does not happen, so we
sell it at a lower cost to avoid all of these complications. Almost 50% to 60% of farmers are not title
deed holders or don’t have a required documents, it’ll be in their father’s or grandfather’s name,
even mine is the same. My father has 3 siblings and the land is in the name of my uncle who is
eldest brother, we don’t have the documents in our name, so we are not getting the benefits of
government schemes. PM Modi started PMK Kisan scheme where the central government would
give Rs 6000 and the state government would give Rs 4000, a year, this nobody is getting. If I
have get the title deed in my name and also get the required documents I will have to spend Rs
50000 – Rs 100000, to get the title deed of my own land I’ll have to spend Rs 100000. I’m asked for
that certificate, this certificate, death certificate, birth certificate, get the sketch of the land, get it
approved by the Thasildhar. It starts from the revenue inspector we have to bribe everyone. The
government did something called Adalat saying they’ll give us the title deed, when we went there
they promptly sent us back claiming we did not have one document or the other. Who does the
documentation? Is it that farmers? Is not the job of the officials? The ministers give orders and the
officials here don’t work, if we do not bribe then no work gets done, the farmer doesn’t have the
money to bribe and finally the farmers just leaves helpless with whatever MSP he gets. About 50%
of farmers do not have the required documents and hence will not get the benefits and the farmer
has resigned to his fate and continues farming as he does not know any other profession.
To plough and ready an acre of land will cost Rs 2500 – Rs 3000, to sow it costs Rs 3000, organic
manure would costs Rs 2000 – Rs 2500 up till Rs 3000, I have to apply for three months, one
person has to irrigate for three months, forget our labour, harvesting and taking it home would
costs Rs 4000 – Rs 5000. The government has mandated that one acre of land can produce 10 quintals of Ragi, maybe a couple of quintals more, if it is a rain fed land then we are not sure of getting 10 quintals, the costs I’m talking about are for irrigated land. If it is rain fed I’m not certain of how much I will be bringing back home, if the rains fail then whatever we have spent is a complete loss. Thats when the farmer gets ready to commit suicide. The difficulty of relying on rain. It has been said that farmers gamble with monsoon. Farming is gambling with the monsoon rain, either it can be too much or too little. In actual gambling there is some hope of winning but with farming there is no hope.

Kantharaju: Every farmer says the same thing.

Raju: The central government is implementing these schemes that are against the farmers, there
has been a protest for the past 70 – 80 days, has the government gone over and tried to solve it?
We thought Modi would connect the rivers, help the farmers, we went behind chanting Modi, Modi,
Modi, what is he doing? We worked for BJP, fought for BJP, got the votes for BJP, we did
everything, I’m a BJP leader too, I might be a farmer but when it comes to politics I have made a
name for myself. What has the government done for the farmers? They say it is a pro-farmer
Government, the farmer is the backbone of the country is what they say, but they are breaking the
bones one by one. It’s not about the protest in Delhi or here, the issue is the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) yard has to be removed, it's not working properly. Don’t they have the powers to set the APMC right? They have made APMC yard for all grains and they are to charge a commission of 1%, but now they are charging 4% and no politician is questioning it. I have grown this crop here, you don’t know that I have grown this crop, what would you do? You’ll go to the market and buy what you want. They want to remove the market and ask the farmers to directly connect with the buyer. How do you know what I have grown? If there is a market, I’ll come there too and we can have an exchange, which is right and that has to be regulated and set right. Instead, they remove the market and ask the farmer to connect with the buyer, is this possible? We don’t want this, that is the protest. Set the market right, that is our demand. The silk cocoon market, for example, we take our cocoons there and an MSP is set or it is auctioned, we like it, we sell it or we wait for the right price. Here the government has regulated it and the commission charged is 1%, why can’t they do the same for APMC? The big businessmen will manage but the small farmers will find it very difficult. A farmer who has grown 10 bags (10 quintals) cannot sell it, no one knows if he has a production. They have to set the APMC right, and not complain the concept itself is wrong, the farmers cannot do it.

Kantharaju: You know how difficult it is? Farmer has cows, calves, hens, sheep, dogs, he has to
manage everything, hoping he will get ahead with at least one but nothing works. We gave good
quality milk, good quality meat, good quality fruits, we just keep giving and they eat and grow fat. In
the process, it’s the farmer’s blood that is sucked out.

Raju: Today, if a business man invests Rs 50000, there is rent, transport, labor and there is a profit
at the end of it. If we buy a cow for Rs 50000, we can’t even pay the interest, we make do with the
cow we have at home and the fodder grown at home and sell the milk. Today a litre of milk is Rs
23, but a bottle of water is Rs 25, all he does is add some chemicals and bottle the water, there is
nothing else he does. The cost of the bottle is Rs 2.

Kantharaju: Where is justice for buying milk at Rs 23? Just because the bottle has a cap the cost
is so high. We on the other hand pour litres of nectar, pure milk, and we get nothing.
Raju: Sandals sold on the street have a fixed rate, but there is no value for what a farmer grows.
Not a single crop has a fixed rate, silk, flowers, fruits, millers, rice, corn, whatever it may be nothing
has a fixed cost. Sandals have a fixed cost, so do watches, clothes, and all of it comes from the
farmers. If you produce a garment you need cotton but cotton does not have a fixed price, the
garment has. The hard work of a farmer has no value. There’s no justice, cocoon has no fixed cost but the saree you buy has a cost to it, he’ll not reduce by a rupee. If we have to buy garments made from cotton we have there’s a fixed cost to it, a value. That’s what the farmers union is fighting for, give us MSP, a fixed cost. The milk should have 28.5 degrees, 3.5% fat, 8.5 SNF(solids-not-fat) only then will we get Rs 23. If the SNF reduces to 8.3 then we get Rs 12.5 and if the SNF reduces to 8 then the price further reduces to Rs 8.10 and if the SNF is below 8 then the milk is a waste. These are the rules set by the government bodies. We don’t ask about the quality of the cow feed, we have to pay up Rs 1200/1500 for a bag of cow feed.

Kantharaju: A sticker is stuck on the bag and we get it, nobody questions the quality or the
nutrition of the feed. And who’s to tell us, it is there and beg or borrow, we buy the feed.

Raju: The resort is suicide, this is the reason why farmers commit suicide.

Kantharaju: People in the parliament say that the farmer drinks alcohol, smokes marijuana, how
dare they!

Raju: It does happen but one in a hundred, even the politician does all of this. To do that kind of
partying where does the farmer have the money? A politician can do it, he gets a salary, he’s made
property worth crores, he makes commission on projects, what does the farmer get?

Kantharaju: Like I said earlier the farmer borrows money to buy a cloth to wrap his dead father,
that’s the state he is in. The farmer doesn’t get enough food to eat, a chilly to eat with the ragi he
has grown, that is all he eats. He gets no nutrition.

Raju: The milk we produce, we don’t keep it for ourselves. We sell it the quarter litre or so hoping
we will get an extra Rs 5 or Rs 10, we can pay the fees. We don’t keep anything for ourselves, we
can’t get the nutrition. If he keeps the produce then there’s no money for tomorrow, he needs
money for hospital, children’s fees, so everything is sold.

Kantharaju: If nothing works he takes the final step and the politician washes his hands off saying
the farmer was a drunkard, high on drugs. It is the farmer to blame.

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