Demands allocations of Rs.13,500 crores for agriculture and allied sectors (not including irrigation); Submits detailed proposals published in a Model Agriculture Budget book on behalf of all farmer unions
At the meeting called by the A.P. State Agriculture Minister this morning to seek farmer organizations’ inputs on Special Agriculture Budget, Rythu Swarajya Vedika submitted detailed proposals published in a Model Agriculture Budget book along with a joint memorandum from all farmer unions (see attachment). The budget proposals were compiled after two months of study and workshops, covering 15 major aspects of agriculture and allied sectors. Compared to the allocations of Rs.5051 crores last year (only 3.5% of the total budget) for agriculture and allied sectors such as horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy development, sericulture, fisheries, cooperation and marketing, the model budget demands Rs.13,500 crores this year.
Rythu Swarajya Vedika welcomes the Special Agriculture Budget being introduced by the State government in response to demands from farmers and farmer unions. Rythu Swarajya Vedika has engaged with all parties, farmer unions, Agriculture Ministry and government officials on Agriculture Budget for the past two years. The Vedika has also held consultations in several districts in the past few months seeking inputs for the Agriculture budget.
The Vedika demanded that the government should focus the public expenditure to reach those sections of farmers who receive very little benefit from the current subsidies and support systems – especially tenant farmers, rainfed farmers, small/marginal farmers and women farmers. Some of the important demands are:
(1) Remunerative Prices and Market Intervention: The state government should take responsibility for remunerative prices for farmers, going beyond simply recommending MSPs to the Centre. Market intervention and procurement operations should be taken up for all food crops (not only paddy but also dryland crops) – most of the expenditure will be recovered by the Civil Supplies department or Markfed; however a Market Stabilization Fund of Rs.1000 crores should be allocated by the government to ensure the continuity of these operations.
(2) Special Mission for Rainfed Agriculture: Rainfed areas form 60% of the cultivated area in A.P., and the government should adopt a special Mission focused on Rainfed agriculture. This mission should focus on an integrated approach that promotes dryland crops including millets, pulses and oilseeds, integrated approach with animal husbandry and trees, protective irrigation, soil organic matter and seeds.
(3) Credit Guarantee Fund for Tenant farmers: The government should proactively ensure that Loan Eligibility Cards are issued to all tenant farmers, to help them get loans, insurance, input subsidies. To ensure that the banks give loans to tenant farmers the government should establish a Rs.1000 crore Credit Guarantee Fund.
(4) Farmer Service Centres for every 3500 acres: For the government to prove to the farmers that it cares to solve their problems, Farmer Service Centres should be opened in every 5 villages or 3500 acres of cultivated area. The Service Centres should operate as single-window for all extension services, schemes and subsidies pertaining to agriculture and all allied sectors, so that the farmer doesn’t have to run around from one department office to another. Each Service Centre should be headed by a fully qualified Agricultural Extension Officer (AEO) and coordinate the activities through other staff and para-staff like Adarsha Rythus. In this year, 110 such Service Centres should be opened on a pilot basis – 5 in each district requiring just Rs.3.3 crores – to be expanded to 5500 Centres in a timebound manner.
(5) Disaster Relief Fund for Farmers: Every year, lakhs of farmers suffering from crop loss due to floods, cyclones and drought have to wait for more than a year before getting relief and input subsidies from Central funds. The state government should take responsibility and set up Rs.1000 crore Disaster Relief Fund, from which relief and input subsidies are disbursed immediately, and can be later replenished upon release of Central funds.
(6) Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture: There should be a concerted time-bound plan to shift to sustainable agriculture by improving soil fertility and organic matter, reducing the dependency on chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides. This will help small and marginal farmers to get out of the grip of high-input, high-risk model of agriculture. The successful NPM and organic practices should be included in the Vyavasaya Panchangam which is used as the Extension manual by the Dept of Agriculture. At the earliest, the State should adopt Organic Farming Policy which has already been drafted and discussed.
In addition, the model budget has specific proposals on animal husbandry, credit, insurance, seeds, farmers’ cooperatives and producer organizations, appropriate mechanization, agricultural research, farm power, social security for agricultural families, and support for farmer suicide families.
Rythu Swarajya Vedika believes that this year’s Special Agriculture Budget should be seen as the first step towards restoring the primacy of Agriculture in the policy priorities and planning in Andhra Pradesh. From the next year, we urge the Government to hold consultations and analysis a few months in advance so that the Agriculture Budget becomes an occasion to define the vision and way forward for the state’s agriculture and allied sectors, and review progress.
Kirankumar Vissa: 9701705743, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr.G.V.Ramanjaneyulu: 9000699702, email@example.com