KERALA

Farmers’ survival at stake: MP

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: The State and Central Governments must intervene to save farmers whose survival is at stake following the fall in price of cash crops and other agricultural produce, P.C. Thomas, MP, has said.

Addressing mediapersons at the Ernakulam Press Club on Thursday, he said that the price of cash crops, especially rubber, has fallen from a peak Rs 144 per kg to Rs 58 per kg now.

“Tyre companies who jacked up the price of tyre when the rubber price was high have refused to bring down the price even after the steep fall in rubber price. Thus they benefit from taxing the customer, while at the same time paying a pittance to the farmer. The tyre companies are acting as a syndicate to keep the price of rubber low.

“They have also imported 50,000 tonnes of rubber at low price.

“We have demanded that the Centre and the Union Finance Department hike the import tariff on rubber from the present 20 per cent to at least 80 per cent.”

Plea for Cashew Board

Cashew farmers in Kollam are getting Rs 30 per kg, whereas the nuts are being sold upwards of Rs 400 in the retail market.

The same is the case with arecanut farmers.

The Centre must establish a Cashew Board in the State, to ensure better remuneration to the farmers, he said.

Airing these grievances, hundreds of farmers would take out a march to Parliament House on December 10, under the banner of the Karshaka Sanghatana Aikya Vedi.

Mr Thomas said that many deserving farmers have not yet benefited from the Centre’s farm-loan waiver scheme.

They are yet to get the official documents on the waiver. Replying to a question on many cooperative banks from the State refusing to waive loans of debt-ridden farmers, he said that this too needs serious consideration by the Government.

Mr Thomas said that many banks are not giving the mandatory 18 per cent of their loans to the agriculture sector.

They prefer to extend loans to industries.

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