Farmers of Andhra Pradesh release their agenda for 2014 elections

Friday 28 March 2014

Demand income security and sustainability, and redressal of grievances relating to land matters which they say are the biggest source of corruption and mis-governance

The apathy of successive governments of Andhra Pradesh towards the deepening agrarian crisis has resulted in farmers groups organising themselves to put pressure on political parties during election time.

The  Rythu Swarajya Vedika, an umbrella organisation of various farmers’ groups and non-profits working in the  agriculture sector, has released a report, Farmers’ Agenda for 2014 Elections, for the upcoming Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections. The report has urged political parties to focus on empowering the real cultivators, ensuring income security and sustainability, and addressing land matters which are the biggest source of corruption and mis-governance. 

More than 35,000 farmers have committed suicide in the past two decades and about 1.4 million farmers have left farming to become agriculture labourers in the past decade.  

Rythu Swarajya Vedika points out that even as 60 per cent of the population in the state depends on agriculture and allied activities for  livelihood, successive governments in the state have failed to formulate farmer-friendly policies, leading to deep distress among farmers.
 
“Agriculture and allied activities are immensely important not only to the particular sections of people who are engaged in them. They hold the key to many of the Central priorities of the nation, such as food security, rural livelihoods, health, rural-urban balance, environment and addressing climate change, “ says the Farmers’ Agenda.

For giving institutional support to farmers, the organisation has demanded setting up of a state agricultural development board on the lines of the National Dairy Development Board, which helped create hundreds of dairy cooperatives, with sufficient allocation of financial and human resources to build farmers’ institutions across the state in the next fives years. Apart from this, a farmers’ income commission should be established to assess farm incomes and ensure minimum incomes, and if the farmers’ incomes do not meet the minimum income level, then the government should take responsibility for the shortfall, demands the farmers’ agenda. Besides, at least 10 per cent of the state budget should be earmarked for agriculture and rural livelihood promotion, it says.

Even the National Policy on Farmers 2007, which calls for a policy reorientation, was not followed in Andhra Pradesh and many other states, points out Rythu Swarajya Vedika.  The policy says, “progress in agriculture should be measured by the growth rate in the net income of farm families... not only in millions of tonnes of food-grains and other farm commodities.” However, according to the organisation, while tens of thousands of crore rupees are spent in the name of farmers, there is no accountability whether this expenditure is resulting in increasing the net income of farm families.

Rythu Swarajya Vedika has demanded 10 per cent of total budget be spent on agriculture and rural livelihood promotion and a 25 per cent increase in public investments in this sector every year. Rythu Swarajya Vedika points out that about half of the real cultivators, especially tenant farmers and women farmers, are completely left out of the various government support systems, including low-interest credit, crop insurance, compensation for disaster damage and input subsidies. As a result, money spent on farmers is enjoyed by ineligible persons, the organisation points out. The loan eligibility cards system introduced for the benefit of the tenant farmers in Andhra Pradesh three years ago needs to be implemented properly, the agenda document says.

'Set land records straight 

Farmers’ organisations have urged for a comprehensive land resurvey  immediately  across the states in order to update the land records and reflect the current situation in terms of ownership and use. Modern technology such as GPS can be used as is being done in the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, and the land records will be completely updated and computerised, resulting in transparency, elimination of corruption and harassment, and reduction in litigation, they point out. In this process, special attention should be given to assigning titles to women based on current use, inheritance laws and other policies, they add.

Further, the organisation demands that land-use planning should be seriously taken up in rural areas to prioritise between use for different sectors and purposes. Transfer of land from agricultural use to non-agricultural use need to be minimised in the interests of people’s livelihood as well as food security and production needs of the nation.

As part of the process of distributing land to the poor, millions of Dalits and backward community members have been given land but they are unable to enjoy the benefits since most of the land is infertile and remains uncultivated due because of lack of irrigation facilities. In many places, pieces of land distributed to the poor communities have been alienated. High priority should be given to developing the land, providing irrigation facilities and preventing alienation of such land, urge the organisations. During land acquisition, consent of gram sabhas should be ensured and the process of Social Impact Assessment needs to be strengthened, the farmers' agenda states.

Major demands of Farmers' Agenda 2014 elections
 
  • 10 per cent of budget for agriculture and rural livelihood promotion
  • Set up agriculture development board, farmers income commission, state prices commission and commodity boards for building value chains for commercial crops
  • Farmer service centres at cluster level to provide single window services in terms of extension, inputs, market and financial services
  • Affordable institutional credit at 4 per cent interest to all real cultivators, effective insurance for crops and livestock
  • Effective disaster management and adequate compensation and income security to farmers
  • Equitable access to land and water through land settlement and survey, formulating land use policy to regulate land use shift, promotion of water harvesting and water recharging, regulating water use and promoting water cooperatives
  • Improve regulation to ensure biosafety with GM crops and quality and price regulation of seed
  • Special package for ecological farming, women farmers, tribal areas, rainfed areas and farmer suicide-affected districts

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  • Bringing wasteland under

    Bringing wasteland under cultivation through WASTELAND DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATIVES in which care-free growth plants like Agave,Opuntia, can be grown which are CAM plants besides regenerative. These plants can be input for Biofuel,biogas and subsequent power generation.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

    Posted by: Anonymous | 4 years ago | Reply
  • On this agenda, I gave my

    On this agenda, I gave my observations. The same was reported by Narendra, CH under www.merinews.com and www.allvoices.com. The same is presented below:


    Farmer's Agenda proposed for 2014 elections
    Narendra Ch | 20 Mar 2014

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy, Formerly Chief Technical Advisor – WMO/UN & Expert – FAO/UN; Fellow, Andhra Pradesh Akademy of Sciences and Convenor, Forum for a better Hyderabad proposed Farmer’s Agenda for 2014 elections, mooted by Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV). He said that he originally proposed this in 2001 “Agriculture Black Paper” to counter “Agriculture White Paper” – that was developed to encourage corporate agriculture --, which was released by the Congress Legisaltive Praty in Andhra Pradesh in February, 2001. The contents of the agenda :

    1. Funds -- Demand for funds is most ambitious – 10% plus 25% of it as additional allocations every year [there is some difference in wording in English & Telugu version] means in five years it becomes 20% of the budget allocations. The central government is allocating lakhs of crores but nobody knows where this is going and how much is coming back. This needs an answer. These amounts could be effectively used.

    2. Flow Irrigation -- already we are using in excess over the allocated share under Bachawat Tribunal award from river Krishna. According to Bachawat Tribunal, we will not get allocated water in 25% of the years. Projects and crops were planned keeping this in mind. With the Brijesh Kumar tribunal award we will not be getting allocated water in 75% of the years. That means surplus water is available to use in only 25% of the years. With this, we have to change the water use and crop plan that overcome this situation. On this government filed SLP on legal grounds and I submitted an open letter to CJ of SC on technical issues asking him to consider it as suo-motto PIL under Quid-Pro-Co to reject the order and take action on the three judges of the tribunal for technical fraud to favor Karnataka.

    3. Climate change -- In the coming six decades on majority of the years we may have to face more drought years under natural variability in climate change perspective. This will severely affect the ground water based agriculture. Here, farmers must change from water intensive crops to crops and cropping pattern that are less water intense along with animal husbandry to supplement the income. Farmers must follow better water management practices such as micro irrigation. This becomes part of income security.

    4. Irrigation projects – Government must give top priority to complete irrigation projects – both flow and lift irrigation --. It is not difficult to complete. The government can get the required fund through controlling granite industry alone. TV9 presented a story on the illegal part of granite mining in Karimnagar alone running into thousands of crores each year.

    5. Power sector – there is a need to control employees in this department, they have become white elephants. We must encourage coordination between cooperative farming groups and electricity department officials to get 7 hours free power. At present this is misused by government agencies and putting the burden on common man, an extra-burden. Also, at the same time farmers must change their attitude in changing the efficient way of using power. At present 50% of the power under this is shown as inefficiently used. The pilferage at government level, industry level and farmers’ levels are increasing and as a result, power charges increasing day by day burdening common man.

    6. Power projects/production – Government must make mandatory to use solar power in domestic use both in urban and rural. Power saved is power produced, so bring down the energy losses to minimal. Build thermal power plants under public sector and discourage private players in this sector. By controlling illegal export of rice, cotton, etc. government can earn thousands of crores, which can be diverted to build these. Also, government must stream line salaries of government employees – previous government blindly increased the salaries & perks and thus this part reached around half the budgetary allocations. This is a big white elephant on the exchequer.

    7. Federations – we have seen these federations. They are solely serving MNCs interests and thus amassing wealth. GMOs are dumped on Indian farmers because of these groups only. We need cooperative farming at village level to overcome several ills of rural agriculture at farmers’ level & village/Mandal levels. This will help to get fertilizers without much hassles as government agreed to pay subsidy directly to farmers.

    8. State Agriculture Boards – They become white elephants like State Seed Corporation. It is essential to have crop-wise commodity boards to improve and help in getting better yields. These must be integrated with seed village programmes & cooperative farming system.

    9. Minimum support price -- Though government is issuing support prices for different crops, it is not reaching the farmers as middlemen are playing games. In this connection, I brought to the notice of PM on this issue. This was forwarded to Agriculture Ministry. The Deputy Minister visited AP and discussed with CM and asked him to implement minimum support price by paying through checks. Everybody talks of cost effective minimum support price but nobody looks at government investment in this – irrigation, power, subsidies, loans – instead looking at agriculture system to improve the economy of the farmers. As long as we go on harping on the government money we achieve little in agriculture and economy of farmers.

    10. Storage facilities -- We must demand to build storage facilities at local/Mandal level to reduce post-harvest losses and destruction under unusual conditions.

    11. Special packages -- We must not encourage special packages and ex-gratia to suicide victim family and instead develop a permanent alternate income generation mechanism at vulnerable local level and at the same time encourage farmers to move to systems that are less risky along with agribusiness.

    12. Discourage -- Discourage water intensive and high input cropping, particularly commercial crops such as cotton, groundnut, etc. Where ever such system is in practice, we must demand to implement crop rotation system similar to tobacco.

    13. Encourage – Under rainfed agriculture and lift irrigation implement inter-cropping or multiple crops systems along with animal husbandry.

    - See more at: http://www.merinews.com/clogArticle/farmers-agenda-proposed-for-2014-elections/15895982#sthash.Ivi0bvXg.dpuf

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 4 years ago | Reply
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