Social forestry planters under the banner of the farmers organisations Joint Action Committee began a six-day relay fast here on Monday demanding that Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu intervene to arrest the steep fall in prices of eucalyptus and subabul.
Leading the protest, CPI State assistant secretary Muppala Nageswara Rao said a situation of oligopoly prevailed with a few private paper mills dictating terms ignoring the prices fixed by the State government.
“In this situation, farmers will have no option but to uproot the trees resulting in import of costly wood pulp from abroad to meet the demand for paper,” he warned
The State government should bail out the farmers by reviving the practice of allowing sale only through the Agricultural Market Committees as in the past.
Prakasam District Development Forum president Ch.Ranga Rao explained that thanks to encouragement from the National Agriculture and Rural Development Bank, the acreage under social forestry plantations went up to 3 lakh acres in the district, but it has fallen to 2 lakh acres with farmers uprooting the trees in some areas.
The State government had fixed the market price for eucalyptus at ₹4,600 per tonne and subabul at ₹4,400 per tonne at a tripartite meeting in 2015. Even the revised agreement reached at the district level at the behest of Environment Minister Sidda Raghava Rao in September 2016, to purchase eucalyptus at ₹4,200 per tonne and subabul at ₹4,000 per tonne had no validity as subabul fetched a price of only₹2,500 per tonne, while eucalyptus was bought between ₹1,800 and ₹2000 per tonne by paper mills, explained All India Kisan Sabha district secretary Vadde Hanuma Reddy.
Subabul and Eucalyptus Farmers Association secretary G.V. Seshu, Kisan Congress district president V. Rajagopala Reddy, YSRCP farmers’ wing district president Mareddy Subba Reddy, A.P. Rythu Sangam district secretary P. Venkat Rao, and CPI(ML) New Demoracy district secretary Ch.Venkateswarlu were among those who joined the protest.
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