Nurjamal Haq, a peasant from Dhubri district of Assam, has 1.3 acres of land. The total income over paid out expenses, from a whole year of work on 1.3 acres of land, was just Rs. 10,505. Nurjamal said, “with demonetisation, our lives were set on fire”. He stood in the queue at around 3 AM hoping to get some money, but was told in the evening that there was no money left. Prices of rabi crops fell sharply as traders were unwilling to buy anything. Although Nurjamal managed to sell his mustard crop, the trader held back payment for want of cash, and gave him money only two months later. With no payment from buyers of their produce, cultivators like Nurjamal were forced to buy inputs on credit. In the desperate situation that the peasants were, input dealers charged exorbitant, “whatever they wished”, prices.
Pilasaheb S. Deshmukh (PSD), a sugarcane farmer from prosperous southern Maharashtra. PSD has 7.5 acres of land irrigated by a cooperative minor lift irrigation project. PSD had problems in selling each of the three crops he harvested in 2017. While the ratoon sugarcane crop harvested in January fetched him a good return, he was unable to use any of the money for two months because of demonetisation. The soybean crop he harvested in July could not be sold because of a crash of prices. The planted crop of sugarcane that matured in October 2017 was not harvested until the end of December because of delayed operations of the sugar mill.
Keshav Lal is a potato farmer from Uttar Pradesh. Keshav Lal’s household has 0.15 acres of tubewell-irrigated land. Besides cultivating the land, Keshav also works as a construction worker. His wife, aged 48 years, works as a daily wage labourer, doing agricultural or non-agricultural work, whatever is available. A crash of potato prices in February this tear forced Keshav to abandon his crop in the field.
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