The cotton-growing industry in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra
Farmers gather at a tea-stall in Adgaon Budruk village in Vidarbha, the cotton-growing district of Maharashtra state.
In 1991, the Indian Government liberalised its economy and launched a process of reforms that placed millions already poor farmers at the mercy of international markets. The Government’s guaranteed purchase price for many Indian crops fell to a price-floor or were abandoned altogether. In Vidarbha, small-scale cotton producers who could once depend on a meagre but stable rate of return now regularly invest more money in the running of their farms than they generate in sales of cotton. This has necessarily forced many into debt, triggering uncertainty, destabilising lives and undermining development.
Photo: Tom Pietrasik