Special Correspondent

Part of YSR's bid to help small and marginal farmers

HYDERABAD: In a bid to help small and marginal farmers, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy is understood to have approved enhancement of the minimum support price (MSP) from Rs.525 to Rs. 600 per quintal of jowar, bajra and ragi.

According to official sources, Dr. Reddy, while reviewing the Kharif-2006 planning process with top officials of agriculture and allied departments, has opined that the present MSP of Rs. 525 was not remunerative for farmers of rain-fed/adverse conditions. He is said to have declared that the Government would meet the additional cost of enhanced MSP of Rs.75 a quintal.

The Government will also impress upon Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to further increase MSP for rain-fed crops. The Centre will be requested to bring castor also under the MSP category.

Since the Government is not supposed to announce the MSP enhancement in view of the code of conduct, the Commissioner of Agriculture has been directed to spread awareness as the sowing will end by June 30.

Seed valley

Meanwhile, sources said, Mr. Pawar has informed the Chief Minister that Andhra Pradesh was the first State to be sanctioned Rs.50 crores to develop a seed valley on the lines of Genome valley. The seed valley will help in production of quality seed for local use and exports.

At the review meeting Dr. Reddy is stated to have impressed upon officials to provide "very good quality seed" to farmers. He also told them to strengthen the seed chain, increase production of breeder, foundation and certified seed. They should aim at 100 per cent seed replacement rate for all crops in another three years.

On crop insurance, the Chief Minister felt that village be taken as a unit and asked officials to visit Delhi to pursue the issue with the Centre. He told officials to discourage farmers from growing chilli and cotton in sub-marginal soils where crop productivity was low. He stressed the need to promote SRI cultivation in paddy in a big way.