Andhra Pradesh

Farming against odds

With the onset of monsoon, the farmers in the State have commenced agricultural operations even as the Meteorological Department’s forecast of a normal monsoon in 2021 has kindled hopes of a good kharif crop.

Farmers have started preparing land and raising paddy nurseries, from where saplings will be transplanted to fields. Usually, the transplantations are done by the second week of June. Tilling operations are going on at a brisk pace in some parts of the State where farmers are dependent upon canal irrigation. The land has been prepared in places where farmers go for rain-fed crops.

The targeted area of cultivation for kharif 2021 is 94.20 lakh acres, 4% more than that of 2020 (90.86 lakh acres). The Annual Credit Plan for 2021-22 is proposed to be more than ₹1.48 lakh crore.

Worrying factors

On the flip side, the ‘procedural wrangles’ and COVID-19-induced restrictions have been worrying the farming community. The restricted banking hours, delay in issuance of crop cultivator rights cards (CCRCs), zero interest loans and Rythu Bharosa, liquidity crunch and non- availability of agricultural workers are some of the ‘immediate problems’ being faced by them.

Farmers Soppala Yenmasu and Kutumba Rao of Antarvedi in East Godavari district haven’t received the monetary benefits under Rythu Bharosa. “Last year, I received ₹13,500 in two instalments during May-June. This year only ₹2,000 released by the Central government has been credited to my account. I haven’t received a penny from the State government so far,” says Kesanasetti of the same village.

Limited working hours

The farmers have no liquid cash for various reasons, including non-payment of dues towards the paddy purchased by the government. Due to the limited banking hours they are unable to get loans as well, he says. (The banking hours were restricted to 9 a.m.-12 noon till Thursday. The revised guidelines for banks are yet to be issued in line with the ease in curfew hours).

Even after standing in long queues for hours at the banks, there is no guarantee that they will get their work accomplished, farmers say. “Not more than 50 tokens are being issued per day at the banks. Where do farmers go for loans?” asks A. Katamaiah of Anantapur district.

“Farmers are forced to go to private moneylenders due to the hurdles in formal lending. What is the use if banks give loans in July-August? By then, farmers will have raised private loans,” says Jagannatham, a farmer leader. The procedures to issue CCRCs are yet to be completed and tenant farmers will not get loans without the cards. Non-availability of agricultural workers in view of COVID-19 restrictions is also hitting the operations, he says.

Farmers like T. Babu Rao and Vanna Reddy believe that in time payment of dues and crediting of Rythu Bharosa benefits will help them a lot and save the trouble of running from pillar to post for raising loans.

Water release

Andhra Pradesh Ryotu Sangham State general secretary K.V.V. Prasad points out that water has not been released for agricultural purposes till date. It is supposed to be released by June 10. It is likely to impact the kharif operations, he opines.


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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 1:23:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/farming-against-odds/article34816128.ece

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