A delegation of areca nut farmers in the district met All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi recently, seeking her intervention in issues affecting their sector.

In a memorandum submitted to her, the farmers said that vagaries of weather and a host of diseases such as mahali (caused by fungi attack) were affecting the areca crop. In the memorandum, addressed to the Union Agriculture Minister, they said that farmers were being driven to debt trap. The delegation was headed by K. Chandrashekhara Rao, Congress activist and farmer.

Mounting labour cost, shortage of labour, and fluctuating market posed problems for farmers. The Centre must write off the agriculture loans availed by the areca growers till 2008, Mr. Rao said during his meeting with Ms. Gandhi.

The demands made by the delegation included a 75 per cent subsidy for purchase of farm equipment, categorisation of ‘mahali’ as natural calamity, and special insurance scheme for dedicated farmers. The delegation also sought a special package for the areca growers of the district.

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala accompanied the farmers’ delegation.