ANDHRA PRADESH

Govt. indifferent to farmers' plight, says Rosaiah

ANANTAPUR MARCH 30. The State and the Central Governments' negligence of the agricultural sector has been leaving the farmers to their fate, the spokesperson of the AP Congress Committee, K. Rosaiah, has said. No efforts have been made to lend a helping hand to the farmers in distress, he said.

Speaking at a meeting on "Development of Agriculture in Andhra Pradesh'' organised as part of the 14th State Congress of AP Rythu Sangham here today, he said the plight of farmers in the State was reflected in the fact that out of 490 suicides committed by farmers in 2002, 385 were in Andhra Pradesh alone as was stated by the Union Agriculture Minister.

But, the Governments both at the Centre and the State were not taking cognizance of the severity of the distress situation. Cultivation in the dry lands like Anantapur district had become even more difficult and the farmers there were leading a pathetic life, he said. About 300 farmers had committed suicide in the district during the last three years and another 37 in 2003 so far.

There were imbalances in providing irrigation facility too in different regions of the State fed by canal irrigation and well irrigation, he stated. While the farmers under canal irrigation, where they would not invest anything for the facility, pay nominal cess, their counterparts under well irrigation had to invest huge amounts for wetting their lands. But, the produce of both would be sold at the same price, he explained. This was where Government subsidies would help, he said. Expressing concern over the decline in the area under irrigation, Mr. Rosaiah stated that while 20.84 lakh hectares was under irrigation in 1994-95 in the State, it had come down to 19.89 lakh hectares in 2001-02. The fall was recorded in spite of the tall claims of the Government that about 10 lakh acres was brought under irrigation additionally over the last 7-8 years by spending Rs. 10,000 crores.

The efforts of the Karnataka Government to improve irrigation had enabled spending of huge amounts on projects there during the same period, he noted. As a result, irrigation in the Krishna basin in Andhra Pradesh had become uncertain now.

Mr. Rosaiah also criticised the Centre for its moves to withdraw its market intervention plans to help the farmers get remunerative prices for their produce. He demanded the State Government to stop forcible collection of crop loans and farm power dues.

He stressed the need for a farmers' movement sans political affiliations for fighting for the cause of the farming community. The Extension Director of ANGRAU, A. Satyanarayana, said cultivation methods like mono-cropping and indiscriminate use of pesticides had become the bane of agriculture and was getting imbalance in the nature.

The Head of the Journalism Department of Osmania University, K. Nageshwar, alleged that the dual policy of the developed countries, particularly in the matter of agriculture subsidies, was ruining the sector in the developing countries.

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