16 Apr 2017
The ‘free fertilizers’ scheme was largely welcomed by farmers in Telangana as it would reduce their input cost but they cried foul over the timing of its implementation — 2018 June — because elections would be barely nine months away and clearly exposed the government’s intention.
The farming community generally felt that it would have trusted the sincerity of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao if he had introduced the scheme right away, now that the government was also done away with clearing all the instalments of crop loan. Another argument that ran contrary was that Mr. Rao was wise enough to announce the scheme now, but implement it next year because he would be seen as eyeing elections if he grounded it all of a sudden in 2018. It also went against organic farming.
A senior CPI (M) leader in Warangal Sarampalli Vasudeva Reddy felt it was a pure election stunt because there was no reason for government to wait for more than a year when farmers were in distress now.
Also, there was no clarity whether land owners or tenant farmers will get the money. In the combined Warangal district, nearly 25 per cent of the five lakh farmers were tenants. In these circumstances, the Left parties have demanded that the benefit go to podu farmers, tillers of endowment lands and tenant farmers.
“2018 season is a long way off” observed a tribal farmer Mesram Durgu in Utnoor of Adilabad district. “We have to wait and see. The fourth instalment of crop loan waiver scheme is still due though the government says it has been released,” said Durgu who is the chief of Raj Gond advisory centres in the district.
In Karimnagar, farmers were upbeat over the announcement on free fertilizers but one of them Ganga Rao from Choppadandi mandal said it would have been a morale booster if it was implemented for the coming crop season from June.
There was another section of farmers in Medak district who felt that it was a big relief as they would no longer get trapped by fertilizer dealers doubling up as money lenders. They borrowed crop loans from dealers on condition that they sold the produce to the latter at prices decided by them.
A mango farmer in Nizamabad K. Srinivas Reddy rubbished the announcement saying what farmers required most was bonus on minimum support price guaranteed for certain produce. Farmers will be at the beck and call of political leaders for sanction of money on fertilizers. “Those who wielded influence with the ruling party leaders will benefit”, he added. have influence at the local MLA and ruling party leaders.
The announcement came when the prices of chilli which had a huge market in Khammam and Warangal had crashed. Though well-intended, the State government’s move to sanction Rs. 4,000 per acre to each farmer towards purchase of fertilizers will not be a viable proposition considering the requirement of more fertilizers for chilli and maize crops, said K Srinivasa Rao, a farmer of Thallampadu in Khammam rural mandal.
The distressed chilli growers are staring at a financial crisis as they are not in a position to realise even the cost of cultivation.
The free fertilizer scheme should be implemented at the earliest by extending the facility to all small and medium farmers particularly the hapless tenant farmers, said A Venkateshwarlu, district secretary, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, Khammam.
(With inputs from Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao in Warangal, S. Harpal Singh in Adilabad, K.M. Dayashankar in Karimnagar, R. Avadhani in Medak, P. Ram Mohan in Nizamabad and P. Sridhar in Khammam)