Hyderabad: Telangana State Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K Chandrashekhar Rao on Friday said the State government was working on a blueprint to transform the agriculture sector in the State into lucrative business through structural reforms and welfare initiatives right from the village to the State level.
Addressing the party’s annual plenary session in suburban Kompally, the newly re-elected party president pointed out that 97 per cent of the farmers in the State had less than 10 acres of land holdings. “Farmers with less than 2.5 acres account for 62 per cent and another 24 per cent have less than five acres of land. Farmers with less than 10 acres of land account for 11 per cent while only .28 per cent have more than 25 acres,” the Chief Minister said, reeling out statistics. “It is imperative that we come up with a graded structure that would benefit the small and marginal farmers in the State,” he said.
Announcing that the Rs 4,000 crop investment per acre announced by the government for farmers would be available for two crops, KCR said the farmer can spend the money on requirements that he deems fit and would not be confined to purchase of fertilisers. “It will be the farmers’ discretion to utilise the funds in a manner that would reap him benefits,” he said. The money would be credited into their accounts in May and October every year.
The Chief Minister also introduced a crucial resolution linking Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) works with agriculture. “This move will help farmers,” he said, adding that the government would send the proposal to the Central government for approval.
Stating that the government would set up a State Farmers Society with seed money of Rs 500 crore, KCR said it was essential to have a proper structure which would empower the farm community and take them on the path of prosperity. “Village Farmers Societies (Grama Rytu Sanghams) will be formed which together will comprise the mandal famers’ federation which in turn will form the district farmers’ federation. All the societies put together will form the State level farmers’ federation,” he said.
Advocating a revolving fund of Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 3,000 crore to be raised by the State Federation through contributions from farmers based on their agriculture produce, the Chief Minister said this fund would come in handy to help out needy farmers. “With the setting up of farmers’ societies, ryots need not make a beeline to market yards to sell their produce. The farmers’ societies will be empowered enough to eliminate middle-men who are the bane of market yards. The societies which would have bargaining power can directly get in touch with traders and negotiate for the best prices for their produce,” he said.
The Chief Minister said that in case the prices of produce were not remunerative enough, they can avail interest-free loans from the society’s revolving fund, for any emergencies, thus preventing distress sale.
Another critical area for the development of agriculture that KCR spoke of was the division of agriculture in the State into crop colonies. “Telangana will be divided into several crop colonies based on soil, temperature, rainfall and wind velocity. The Agriculture Officers will advise the farmers on the type of crop to be grown based on these factors,” he said. The government had already recruited 2112 officers with a goal of having an official for every 5000 acres. These officials would also be given laptops shortly.
The Chief Minister also took on the opposition particularly the Congress for levelling allegations against him that he was copying their ideas. “I first spoke of crop colonies three years ago. The government is clear in its committment and understand the need to have a clear structure for agriculture reforms and progress of farmers in the State. The Congress criticism that the government was holding back on the assistance to farmers is baseless since a proper hierarchy and structure has to be put in place first,” he said.
“Once these initiatives are put in place, the farmer in Telangana would be a king,” the chief minister assured.