A public hearing on the State introducing a separate budget for agriculture was held here on Sunday in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, M. R. K. Panneerselvam, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies R. Sakkarapani and Minister for Rural Development I. Periyasamy.
According to a press release, representatives of farmers associations from Dindigul, Theni, Karur, Tiruppur and Tiruchi voiced out their opinions in the presence of Collector S. Visakan, Agriculture Production Commissioner and Secretary C. Samayamoorthy, Director of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare A. Annadurai, Commissioner of Sugar Department C. Vijayaraj Kumar, Director of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business S. Natarajan, Director of Horticulture and Plantation Crops R. Brinda Devi.
Many farmers flagged the issue of not getting remunerative prices for their produce, especially paddy and sugarcane. Setting up of more paddy procurement centres and engaging workers under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to take up farm works were among their demands.
Fathima Rajendran, a farmer from N. Panjampatti in Athoor taluk said that the State must include sanctioning pension to farmers who are above 60 years of age. “The State must also take steps to concentrate on assessing crop damage and give compensation to farmers in the south districts of Tamil Nadu, especially those who cultivate jasmine and drumstick. They have been incurring losses due to climate change,” he noted.
N. Perumal, district president, All India Kisan Sabha, the State must allocate additional budget for value-added product manufacturing. “In cases of coconut trees damaged by elephants, especially in Kannivadi, just ₹500 as compensation is given per tree through the Forest Department. This should be increased to at least ₹20,000 in order to support the livelihood of the farmers,” he added.
Mr. Panneerselvam stated that ₹800 crore has been disbursed to sugarcane farmers to revive the industry. The area of sugarcane cultivation has been increased from 90 lakh acres to 115 lakh acres. He assured the farmers that their demands were noted and steps will be taken to fulfill them.
Mr. Periyasamy said that the State has the intention of presenting a separate budget for farmers in order to roll out various schemes to improve the livelihood of farmers. He added that 6.5 lakh farmers have enrolled as new members in the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies. He urged farmers to use organic manure, not minding even if the income reduces a bit, because it would turn out to be beneficial in the long run.
Mr. Sakkarapani noted that rice godowns that can store up to 2.86 lakh metric tonne of rice are nearing completion while godowns with capacity of 7.94 metric tonnes are under construction. He also stressed the need to set up a Horticulture College in Dindigul district. The Minister said that steps should be taken to get remunerative rates for Senganthal (flame or glory lily), the State flower. He added that the sugar mill at Madathukulam must be renovated to benefit the sugarcane farmers.
Dindigul MP P. Velusamy, MLAs I.P.Senthilkumar and S. Gandhirajan, Joint Director of Agriculture A. Anusuya, Additional Collector C. Dinesh Kumar, District Revenue Officer V. Latha and others were present.