Hyderabad: Farmers’ organisations have raised concerns over the Telangana state government’s recent statement on the stoppage of government procurement centres at village levels, which were started earlier this year.
Farmers are also questioning why the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government has taken a U-turn on its opposition to the new farm laws weeks after supporting the December 8 Bharat bandh against the legislations.
“The government has set up procurement centres at village levels aiming to rescue farmers from incurring losses on a humanitarian basis amid COVID-19 pandemic. It is not possible for the government to procure every time. The state government is not a business organisation or trader. It is not a rice miller or a dal miller. It is not possible to set up purchase centres in the villages from next year onwards,” said a government statement on Monday after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. The statement added that the new farm laws by the central government say that the farmers can sell their produce anywhere in the country.
T Sagar, general secretary of Telangana Rythu Sangam, said that if the state stops procuring crop produce, the minimum support price (MSP) will not be implemented and there will be a rise in farmer suicides. “CM KCR’s statements seem to have been made in a hopeless manner,” he said.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s data, 491 farmers in Telangana died by suicide in 2019 – fourth highest number of farmer suicides in the country.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary, Tammineni Veerabhadram demanded CM K Chandrashekar Rao to take back the government statement that indirectly supports the farm laws. The left party leader reminded that the CM had opposed the farm laws in the last four months and had even asked his party MLAs and ministers to participate in the Bharat bandh on December 8.
“The state government must pass a resolution in the Assembly against the farm laws,” said Veerabhadram.
The state government has also stated that it incurred losses to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore in the last six years owing to government procurement.
“The state agriculture department must give all details of why the government incurred losses for procuring crop produce at minimum support prices. Otherwise, one has to assume that the crop bought with government funds was deliberately sold at low prices to selected groups,” said Ravi Kanneganti of Rythu Swarajya Vedika.
Farmer organisations in the state have called for a ‘Chalo Hyderabad’ protest on December 30 against the farm laws in continuation of the ongoing countrywide farmers’ protests.
Since 2018, the state government has been implementing Rythu Bandhu Scheme -- through which Rs 10,000 per acre per year investment support has been provided to about 61 lakh farmers in the state. However, farm leaders have been criticising the scheme as landlords with 10 acres of land and more are availing the benefits while landless tenant farmers are not covered under the scheme.
“We are demanding that the government formulates a comprehensive agricultural policy which protects the environment and the nature of the lands, considers rainfall patterns and protects the livelihood of the rural people and the income of farming families,” said Ravi while adding that the budgetary allocations are also needed to be made on the lines of the comprehensive policy.
Farmers are devastated by the non-implementation of the crop insurance scheme this year, Ravi pointed out. “Due to non-implementation of the Rs 1 lakh loan waiver scheme in a single installment, farmers’ loans remained unpaid in banks and farmers did not receive new loans. The burden of interest is falling on farmers. Farmers have to bear the burden of interest as the government has not paid interest subsidy funds to the banks for the last four years,” said Ravi.