Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohan said here on Tuesday that the State government was not sure if the farmer Sathyadas of Edathu in Alappuzha district had committed suicide on Sunday because of agrarian distress.

The Minister told presspersons that a report from the authorities on the suicide was awaited. The farmer, he said, had been paid for the paddy procured from him by the government. Action had been taken to release the payments to the farmers who had not yet received them.

He said the government was procuring paddy at Rs. 15 a kg from all districts through Supplyco. It was the biggest ever procurement drive in the State.

Mr. Mohanan said the government had already named the new Chairman of the State Farmers' Distress Relief Commission. The choice of two members of the commission would be decided soon.

He said the “Niravu” scheme, which targeted comprehensive agriculture development from supply of seeds to marketing, had been launched in 12 Assembly constituencies. It would be extended to all constituencies in phases.

Listing the achievements of his department over the past year, the Minister said that vegetable cultivation had been started commercially on 2,000 hectares of farmlands. The department had readied six wholesale markets, and about 250 tonnes of fruits and vegetables were being auctioned through them every month.

He said the payment of various assistances to the farmers had been routed through the banks. Pension at Rs. 400 a month was being paid to farmers owning less than two hectares. A programme had been launched for promotion of organic farming.

An insurance programme had been launched to cover all the cattle in the State at low rates of premium (2.4 per cent). Assistance had been provided for mechanisation of 400 cattle farms. A high-tech layer breeder farm had been started in Kollam and a modern chicken feed factory at Mala.

He noted that the Stationery Department under him had been able to supply paper and other items needed for school textbooks in time so that they could be printed before the beginning of the academic year.