Staff Reporter

To highlight crisis in Kuttanad

ALAPPUZHA: Farm Net, an independent organisation of farmers of Kuttanad, will organise a `sayana dharna' in front of the Kuttanad taluk office from 10 a.m. on June 16 to highlight the plight of farmers of Kuttanad who are going through a crisis, Farm Net convener Thomas Peelianikkal has said. At a press conference here on Wednesday, Fr.Peelianikkal said because of the fall in prices of agricultural products, repeated natural calamities and high rates of interest at which banks lend money, the farmers were finding life difficult.

He said that farmers of Kuttanad, especially paddy farmers, were finding it difficult to get out of the debt trap.

They were not committing suicide unlike their counterparts in Wayanad only because of the collective strength they derived from group farming being practiced there, said Fr. Peelianikkal. The banks were lending money at high rates of interest and the farmers who incurred loss after each harvest find it difficult to repay loan, said Fr. Peelianikkal.

He said that even when the interest being paid by farmers on the long term loan taken by them from banks had become more than the principal amount, they were still debtors. While the plight of the farmers of Wayanad had been highlighted, the problems of farmers of Kuttanad were yet to come to the attention of the Union and State Governments, Fr. Peelianikkal said. He said while he welcomed the decision of the State Government to write off debts up to Rs.1 lakh taken by farmers, his request was that the Government should also sympathetically consider those farmers who were on the verge of suicide.

He demanded that the Government write off debts up to Rs.50,000 taken by farmers who own up to five acres of land. He said the Farm Net would soon establish a counselling centre for farmers in Kuttanad who are living on the edge.