Concerned over 22 tenant farmers ending their lives in Prakasam district since the kharif crop season with no clues to come out of the debt trap, the CPI(M)-led Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangam on Saturday launched a vigorous campaign for provision of credit, farm inputs at subsidised rates and crop insurance for this section of farmers.
“As part of the campaign, we are going to provide them with identity cards on our own and organise themselves into a big force to fight for our rights, including compensation for crops damaged due to natural calamities,'' Andhra Pradesh Kavulu Rythulu Sangam (APKRS) told a press conference here.
“The campaign, which included pasting of over 10,000 posters across the villages in the district, will continue till the last tenant farmer is provided with Loan Eligibility cards by the State government and provided with institutional credit as per scale of finance for each crop similar to other farmers'', APRS District Secretary N.Ranga Rao said.
Despite the Reserve Bank of India's direction to public sector banks to organise tenant farmers into Joint Liability Groups(JLGs) for the purpose of providing credit, hardly 10 per cent of the over two lakh tenant farmers, mostly SCs, STs and BCs, were covered due to bankers alleged apathy, Mr. Rao said.
Mr. Rao lamented that with the State government initiating a debate on the draft Loan Eligibility Card (for permissive cultivators) Bill, 2011 slated for introduction in the budget session, the process of issuing cards started in November 2010, had been put on hold for next kharif.
It was during the Rajasekhara Reddy regime, the Government Order for issuing the card was issued in the year 2008 for ameliorating condition of tenant farmers, who were deprived of institutional credit in the absence of formal lease agreements between tenants and land owners, he recalled.
The Government on its own should hold gram sabhas and identify the informal tenants in each village and provide them with all required support to tide over the serious crisis facing the agriculture sector.
In Prakasam district, 2,600 tenants were formed into 520 groups and provided loans of Rs. 10,000 each due to the efforts of the APRS.