`Allocations to the sector have been meagre'
Consortium to launch a postcard campaignCentre asked to cut interest on farm credits to 4 per cent
ELURU: P. Chengal Reddy, secretary general, Consortium of Indian Farmers' Associations, on Thursday emphasised the need for a major share in the Union Budget 2007-08 for agriculture. Addressing a press conference here, he urged the Central government to take into consideration either the contribution of agriculture sector to the Gross Domestic Product or the farming population while making budgetary allocations. The share of agriculture accounted for 25 per cent in the GDP. But the allocations for the sector had never crossed 3 per cent, he regretted.
Mr. Reddy informed that the consortium had decided launch a postcard campaign, seeking a due share in the Union Budget for agriculture, among others, in February. It was decided to post 1 crore postcards to the Prime Minister, involving farmers from different states across the country.
He asked the Centre to include irrigation and agriculture in the concurrent list and thereby ensure completion of all the 400 pending irrigation projects in the country by investing Rs 8,000 crore. An extent of 2.5 million hectares of land would be brought under cultivation, if all these pending projects were completed, he said. Holding the Centre responsible for the present agrarian crisis and the resultant suicides by farmers, Mr. Reddy demanded the Union Government slash interest rates on farm credits to 4 per cent from the current 7-12 per cent. The Central Government should write off the farm loans if the crops failed in two successive years due to calamities, he said.
M. Sitarama Swamy, president of the Andhra Pradesh Rytanga Samakhya, urged the Central government to ensure that the local people would benefit from the Kakinada-Goa gas pipeline project undertaken by Reliance company. The private company should give preference to meet gas requirements of local people in East and West Godavari and Krishna districts through which the pipeline was being laid, he said.