Seeking their due:A farmer turns restive during a meeting to discuss the problems of Bengal gram growers in Ongole on Friday.
Adversely hit by the EXIM policy, Bengal gram farmers in Prakasam district on Friday constituted a committee to carry out a struggle to press for market intervention by the Central and State government marketing agencies offering at least Rs. 4,500 per quintal for their produce.
With the price of the premium pulse crop plummeting to about Rs.3,000 per quintal, the farmers, who have grown hybrid varieties of Bengal gram, are saddled with over 14.5 lakh quintals in cold storages in the district.
Extracting an assurance from Congress MLA from S.N. Padu B.N. Vijaykumar to lead a farmers’ delegation to Hyderabad coinciding with the Assembly session from January 3 to meet Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, the farmers at a meeting held on the Agriculture Market Committee premises resolved to stage demonstrations demanding imposition of anti-dumping duties on Bengal gram imports.
Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham (APRS) district vice-president K. Ramakoteswara Rao, who was elected general secretary of the new body, pressed for constitution of a commodity board under the Union Commerce Ministry on the lines of tobacco and spices boards to protect the farmers from adverse market conditions in the wake of indiscriminate imports from, among other countries, Australia, Canada, and Russia, and explore new markets abroad for the produce.
Projected as an alternative to tobacco in view of the health hazards by the Union and State governments, the farmers took to cultivation of superior KAK2 and Mexican bold variety in over three lakh acres as it fetched a high Rs.7,500 per quintal in the year 2011. But there were no takers for the hybrid varieties of Bengal gram even at Rs.3,000 per quintal, explained APRS district secretary D. Gopinath.
P. Venkata Chowdhary, who was elected general secretary of Bengal gram growers’ committee, the government should immediately release Rs.75 crore announced for market intervention and sanction further amounts for lifting the entire stock lying in 45 cold storage units in the district. The ruling Congress should take a “political decision” to rescue the distressed farmers, said Acharya N.G. Ranga Kisan Samstha secretary Ch. Seshaiah.