After uncertainty over purchase price for their produce, social forestry planters are now worried lot due to wagon shortage.
Movement of logs from the railway stations of Ongole and neighbouring Surareddypalem, Tangutur and Singarayakonda to different destinations in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh among other states has been hit for the last 20 days leading to accumulation of over 15,000 tonnes of logs in each of the stations.
“We have been struggling in the wake of falling price for our produce and the confusion over collection of VAT by the Commercial taxes department. Now the shortage of wagons has added to our woes,'' said a group of farmers standing with fingers crossed at the railway station here.
“The paper mills have asked the farmers not to bring their logs till wagons are allotted by the railway authorities and the accumulated stocks are cleared,'' CPI-led Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangam district secretary K V V Prasad said.
He urged the district administration to immediately take up the matter with the railway authorities and ensure allotment of wagons to the paper mills immediately. He also pressed for restoring the old system of Agricultural Market Committees regulating the market and ensuring a fair price for farmers.
Prakasam district had emerged as a model for other districts thanks to a well-regulated market. Now the farmers are uprooting their plantations in the wake of paper mills making purchases directly through their agents bypassing the market committees, Mr Prasad said.
The market committees' role had been minimised to weighing with the paper mills directly crediting payments to farmers accounts, he added. Though the purchase price was revised to Rs. 2,075 per tonne for subabul and Rs. 2,225 per tonne of eucalyptus in April this year following intervention by Secondary Education Minister K Parthasarathy farmers were hardly getting Rs.1,400 to Rs. 1,500 per tonne, Mr Prasad said. With the NABARD liberally providing refinance for social forestry projects funded by commercial banks, the extent of cultivation of subabul and eculyptus increased to over 2.50 lakh acres in the late 1990s, before taking a downturn in the wake of unfavourable market condition since 2008.