Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Governments' apathy to blame for agriculture crisis

JP begins ‘Surajya Yatra’ from the ancestral house of Damodaram Sanjeevaiah

Kurnool: The agriculture sector has plunged into a crisis owing to the neglect of the governments in ensuring remunerative prices rather than the nature’s vagaries, Lok Satta president Jayaprakash Narayana remarked on Monday.

Mr. Narayana who began his ‘Surajya Yatra’ from the ancestral house of the first Dalit Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Damodaram Sanjeevaiah in Peddapadu village near Kurnool, asserted that the State would only prosper when agriculture becomes remunerative and education and health facilities were within the reach of the entire population. The governments were neglecting the farming community and were engrossed in ensuring their political sustenance, Mr. Narayana alleged.

Farmers would produce the much-needed food grains when they were extended assistance and requisite facilities rather than sanction ex gratia of ₹2 lakh to their kith after they committed suicide, the Lok Satta leader said.

He later visited Kurnool market yard and interacted with onion and groundnut farmers who brought their produce for sale on their hardships. The farmers lamented that they were hard-hit by lack of remunerative prices and were becoming debt-ridden by not getting back their investment. Mr. Jayaprakash Narayana said the Kurnool market yard was being maintained properly by its secretary Sivaramakrishna Sastry and staff were serving the farmers. The market yard turnover was about ₹500 to ₹600 crore.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu was claiming to have waived loans of farmers, but they got loan waiver only to the tune of ₹10,000 to ₹20,000 and most of them were securing loans at high interest rate adding to their repayment burden and were forced to sell their produce at lower prices. Government policies were leading to fall in price of crops, but not increasing the revenue of farmers, he added. Onion farmers got only half of the normal yield of 50 quintals per acre and were getting about ₹3,300 per quintal.

Seeks cess on imports

India was importing about ₹1 lakh crore worth of groundnut, pulses and edible oils, he said and suggested a levy of 30% cess on imports. The groundnut, sunflower and oilseed farmers must be given the minimum support price and a share in the import cess collected to help them flourish and increase productivity to avert the need for imports.

Constructing godowns for storage of agricultural produce and processing of perishable products would help the farmers get the desired prices, the Lok Satta president said. As farmers lacked the facilities, they had no option but to sell their produce at lesser prices and become saddled with debts, he said.

Mr. Jayaprakash Narayana recalled that he had taken out a padayatra in 2011 when the then government banned agricultural exports, when prices were high in other States and abroad. The protest led to permission to export and farmers got ₹3,600 crore additionally that year, he said.

A farmer was getting ₹18,000 by selling his produce but the school fees of his son was ₹20,000, but the governments were giving temporary sops but not formulating plans to increase their revenue. While 50% were dependent on farming, farmers’ income was hardly 15% . Agricultural exports fell by ₹70,000 crore and imports fell by an equal amount after Mr. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he said.

Agriculture would be a gamble unless the governments chalked out policies to increase the revenue of farmers, extend health benefits and impart free and qualitative education to their children, he said and called for a debate on the issue.

Lok Satta leaders Rajyalakshmi, coordinator Ranjit Kumar and others took part.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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