Hyderabad, March 1: The "pro-farmer" image of the Congress government has received a severe beating what with farm production and total cropped area going down during the past nine months.
The promises of Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy notwithstanding, the State government failed to achieve even the targets touched by the previous TD regime, widely accused of neglecting the crucial agricultural sector for a decade. The farm sector registered a negative growth during the Khariff season. Total yield is likely to come down in the ongoing Rabi season.
The area under food grains in the State was 43.03 lakh hectares at the end of the Telugu Desam rule in 2003-2004. After the Congress came to power the area came down to 38.91 lakh hectares, registering a fall of 5.12 lakh hectares. This constitutes a negative growth rate of about 12 per cent in total cropped area of food grains.
The only solace was the groundnut crop. The total cropped area went up from 12.58 lakh hectares in 2003-2004 to 15.51 lakh hectares in 2004-2005. Officials attribute the increase in groundnut area and produce to timely, though deficient, rainfall in Anantapur district.
The total production of food grains decreased to 77.80 lakh tonnes last Khariff from 86.49 lakh tonnes in 2003-2004. Paddy production also came down during the Congress rule from 58.42 lakh tonnes when Chandrababu Naidu was the chief minister to 56.97 lakh tonnes.
The government also failed to provide minimum support price to farmers during the Khariff season. Cotton farmers lost as much as Rs 1200 per quintal as compared with that of the previous year. Chilli farmers sold their produce for Rs 2400 per quintal during 2003-2004. The prices have now come down to around Rs 1700 per quintal.
All-India Kisan Sabha leader S Malla Reddy blames the State government for the crisis in the agriculture sector. "We have been demanding market intervention by the State government. So far there has been no response. Farmers are resorting to distress sale. Unless the government comes to their rescue, it cannot put an end to suicides", he pointed out.
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