Sector facing acute labour shortage and increase in input cost, Meena told

Farmers got Rs. 4.50 per coconut in 1983-84 and the rates remain the same 20 years later. However, the daily wages of labourers has gone up from Rs. 20 to Rs. 300.

President of Mangalore Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Prashanth Gatti brought up this point while highlighting the plight of farmers at an interactive programme here on Friday with Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Bharatlal Meena at the zilla panchayat, here on Friday. He demanded remunerative prices for farmers.

Farmers were facing acute shortage of labourers, increase in input cost of farming at a time when remunerative prices remain a dream for them, Mr. Gattti said.

Rajesh, a farmer, said that the government should not permit conversion of paddy fields for commercial purposes as paddy cultivation was on the verge of extinction, particularly in Dakshina Kannada.

Mr. Gatti said that in many villages, the village accountants had not updated the Record of Rights to Tenancy and Crops (RTC). Even if farmers had switched over to horticultural crops such as areca and coconut, the RTCs of farmers still mentioned that they cultivated paddy. As a result, farmers have not been able to get benefits from the horticulture department as the department rejected farmers’ applications on the ground that they cultivated paddy.

Ashok Bhat, another farmer, said that now non-agriculturists were not permitted to purchase agriculture land. The ban should be lifted so that those interested in agriculture could buy farm land.

Varanashi Krishnamurthy, founder, Varanashi Research Foundation, Adyanadkka, said that the government should make a policy for promoting jackfruit cultivation in the State as jackfruit was a food crop.

In his reply, Mr. Meena said that the proposed agriculture price commission was expected to address the marketing problems of farmers. The issue of allowing non-agriculturists to buy farm lands would be taken up with the government while village accountants would be asked to update the RTCs on annual basis.

He said that the government was thinking of paying the interest part of loans if a group of farmers built warehouses for storing agriculture produces at villages by availing bank loan.

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