Over 10,000 farmers will participate in a protest rally here on Thursday with plans to burn 1,000 quintal of unsold raw cotton that they are stuck with, according to campaigners, who are upset about the decreased productivity, reduction in pricing, and high production expenses.According to senior farmer activist Vijay Jawandhia, over 80 lakh farmers are involved in cotton farming in the state, and 10.20 million hectares of cotton were grown there last year at a record price of Rs 14,000 per quintal.

However, this year’s early-season unseasonal rains destroyed or damaged over 40% of the cotton crop, leading to a significant agro-crisis.”Cotton prices this year have dropped by over 50%, from Rs 14,000 per quintal to approximately Rs 7,000 per quintal. Now, cotton exports have decreased from 6 million bales to just 2 billion bales, trapping Indian farmers in new debt, according to Jawandhia.

According to farmer leader of the Shiv Sena (UBT), Kishore Tiwari, the state has already reported more than 3,300 cotton farmers’ suicides in the Vidarbha, Marathwada, and north Maharashtra districts this year.

In order to prevent the cotton farmers from resorted to extreme mass action, Tiwari said, “We are demanding a compensation of Rs 5000/quintal for the losses suffered by the cotton farmers through the May 18 rally.”He clarified that in addition to the current situation in the field, the Centre has made matters worse by allowing the import of a record three million bales of cotton, ostensibly to safeguard the interests of the textile mill business. The farmers sulk under their debt obligations.

The pair said that even the current price of cotton (Rs 7,000/quintal) is only possible because the US dollar is strong relative to the Indian rupee; otherwise, prices would have fallen as low as Rs 6,000/quintal, which is less than the MSP.

Each rally attendee was instructed to bring 10 kg of extra cotton from their homes, which would be thrown in a public space and set ablaze as a symbolic protest against the government’s anti-farmer policies.According to Tiwari and Jawandhia, all major political parties and other farmer organisations will support the protest rally, and if the Centre does not act quickly, “it could lead to a genocide in cotton fields.”