On Tuesday, several farmers in Shivampet village of Telangana’s Medak district held a protest demonstration with pesticide bottles, threatening to consume the chemical, over delay in procurement of the paddy crop by the government procurement centre. The same day, one tenant farmer tried to commit suicide in front of an agriculture market in Khammam district complaining of delay in procurement, according to newspaper reports.
According to reports, tenant farmer Gaddam Lingaiah from Nelakondapalli village in Khammam district attempted suicide by consuming pesiticide near a procurement centre as he was unable to sell his paddy crop even after having waited for twenty days near a procurement centre. His fellow farmers stopped him and admitted him to a government hospital in the district where he is currently under treatment.
While state officials have assured that they will speed up the procurement process, queued tractors containing crop produce have become a common sight in front of procurement centres in the state.
With the fear of contracting the coronavirus ever-present as farmers bring their harvested crop produce to market yards and procurement centres, they are encountering a delay in the procurement process, forcing them to wait for between 10 to 20 days. Additionally, farmers are also worried by the untimely rains damaging crop produce at the market centres.
As per official estimates, during the Rabi or Yasangi season, paddy was sowed in 52 lakh acres in the state and over 1.32 metric tons of crop is expected to be harvested this time in the state.
Although the state government has fixed the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 1,881 for paddy crop, farmers' organisations are arguing that the MSP is not being realised.
Farmers unions, including the Telangana Rythu Sangham and Rythu Swarajya Vedika, have been demanding that the government addresses issues at the procurement centres and are demanding that it compensates the farmers affected due to crop damage from rainfall in the state.
“The Telangana Rashtra Samithi government has failed in governance when it comes to agriculture, which is reflected in the high number of farmers’ suicides in the state. Farmers have been protesting for various reasons such as delay in procurement process, MSP realisation from numerous crops, for loan waivers and for compensation of crop damage due to disasters, among others,” said Sarampally Mallareddy, vice president of the All India Kisan Sabha.
“For instance, the government has recently constructed Rythu Vedikas across mandals in the state. But these Vedikas are not even useful to store the crop produce from untimely rains as hundreds of tonnes of crop produce brought to the markets are getting drenched in the rains,” he said.
Rajashekar, a farmer from Nalgonda district, said that the government has not even provided masks, sanitisers and gunny bags near the procurement centres. “Farmers are struggling to save their crop from rains fearing further delay in procurement. Millers and middlemen are exploiting the situation and buying the crop produce at lower prices from worried farmers,” he said.
On the other hand, the non-existence of a crop insurance scheme in the state is severely affecting the farmers hit by untimely rains, floods and drought and other disasters.
According to the preliminary estimates of the Horticulture Department, the recent rainfall in the state has affected mango and banana fields in over 8,000 acres in the state, causing distress to about 2,000 farmers who incurred losses to the tune of Rs 6.26 crore.
Last year, the state government stopped the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), ending the crop insurance scheme in the state. While the scheme began in the Kharif season in 2016, the insurance companies are yet to clear claims of farmers amounting to Rs 960 crore (Rs 410 crore for 2018-19 and Rs 550 crore for 2019-20).