Andhra Pradesh

Social forestry planters in dire straits

Congress party’s farmers’ wing leader V. Rajagopala Reddy submitting a memorandum to a staffer at the Chandrapadu Rythu Bharosa Kendra, near Chimakurthy, on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: KOMMURI SRINIVAS

There has been no end to the woes of social forestry planters in Prakasam district as the paper mills fail to purchase subabul, eucalyptus and casuarina logs as per the prices agreed at the behest of the State government.

The woes of the farmers who have raised social forestry plantations with years of toil compounded following import of wood pulp from abroad.

Thanks to the encouragement of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Prakasam district stood first in the cultivation of eucalyptus in over 1.10 lakh acres and second in subabul in an extent of 60,000 acres after Krishna district, where it was cultivated in over 62,000 acres, especially in the western parts.

The prices of logs ruled more than ₹4,000 per tonne during 2014, and since then they have been falling freely after the paper mills created a network of brokers and bypassed the Agriculture Market Committees, which had been regulating the sale hitherto.

Import of wood pulp

Farmers attributed the unabated import of wood pulp from over 50 countries for their plight. The import in India grew by 39.63% during 2014 to 2018, accelerating the market crash.

Those who had switched over to eucalyptus cultivation, unable to cope with uncertainties associated with growing short duration commercial crops, are now ruing their fate as the paper mills offered only ₹1,500 per tonne.

Subabul attracted buyers at a relatively better price of about ₹2,500 per tonne, explained All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee(AIKSCC) Prakasam district convener Ch. Ranga Rao after taking stock of the situation with members of the Social Forestry Farmers’ Association.

Following the intervention of the State government, paper mills had agreed to purchase subabul at ₹4,200 per tonne and eucalyptus at ₹4,400 per tonne in 2014.

Jagan’s promise

Farmers were hoping that the situation would improve for the better after the change in government in the State as Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had promised purchase of the logs at a remunerative price of ₹5,000 per tonne in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.

“Our hopes have been dashed now,” said association district secretary K. Veera Reddy.

“We will petition ruling party MLAs seeking the State government’s intervention in the first phase, and take our stir to Vijayawada in the next phase by joining hands with our counterparts in and around Nandigama and Jaggaipeta in Krishna district,” he said.

‘Impose duty on imports’

The Centre should impose countervailing duty of up to 150% to discourage import of wood pulp from abroad with a view to protecting the interests of domestic farmers who have been contributing their mite in afforestation of barren lands, and thus reducing pressure on virgin forests, they demanded.

Meanwhile, the Congress party’s farmers wing State vice-president V. Rajagopala Reddy urged the State government to purchase the logs through the Rythu Bharosa Kendras in keeping with the Chief Minister’s poll promise.

He submitted a memorandum to the government at the Chandrapadu RBK, near Chimakurthy, in support of the demand.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 1:53:18 AM |

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