Special Correspondent

Records reservations on panel report on cooperative credit

NEW DELHI: Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan on Tuesday registered opposition to opening agriculture to contract farming, corporate farming and corporate retail as it not only involved certain backtracking on land reforms - notably tenancy reforms and ceiling legislation - but would also convert Indian agriculture into "an adjunct, an appendage" of global capitalism.

Addressing the 53rd meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) here, the Chief Minister said Kerala favoured an approach that emphasised "the protection of peasant agriculture from the baneful consequences of integration with global capitalism through deliberate interventions by the State".

Pointing out that the State's approach ran contrary to what was envisaged in the report of the NDC sub-committee on agriculture, he said Kerala viewed "the agricultural crisis not in terms of output growth rates per se, but as a crisis of the peasantry and agricultural labourers".

Also, Mr. Achuthanandan placed on record the State's reservations about the Vaidyanathan Committee Report on Cooperative Credit. "Its basic assumption that the problems of the cooperative credit sector arise exclusively because of State Governments' interference in its functioning is questionable. In a situation of agrarian crisis, any institutional credit agency catering to this sector will also be hard-pressed."

According to the Chief Minister, unless the agrarian crisis is overcome, reforming the cooperative credit structure along the lines suggested by the Vaidyanathan Committee will not improve its viability.

In his address, the Chief Minister put the number of farmer suicides in Kerala in the vicinity of 2,000. Asked about this at a press conference later, he said the last count when his Government took over a year ago was around 1,500.