‘Crop holiday’ in Andhra

Farmers in Andhra Pradesh’s rice belt have declared a “crop holiday” this season after they suffered losses despite a bumper crop last year. The growers’ loss varied from Rs Rs 2,200 to Rs 3,600 per acre. They have been forced to take the extreme step as paddy cultivation is no longer financially viable. The cost of farm inputs, including seeds and chemicals, has soared by up to 300 per cent in the last two years in the state. Secondly, migration to cities has led to a shortage of labour, which, in turn, has pushed up farm wages. The minimum support price at Rs 1,030 a quintal has proved inadequate to cover the rising costs and even this price is not available to a large number.

In Andhra Pradesh there is no assured procurement of paddy as in Punjab and Haryana. Private mills buy paddy in a big way. Since private rice millers could not offload their existing stocks to generate money for fresh paddy buying and the government added to their woes by delaying a decision on exports, rice growers did not get the MSP and had to resort to distress sale. Many dumped paddy for just Rs 700 a quintal. There were not even enough bags for self-help groups, which procure rice under a poverty reduction programme to help the rural poor.

While the poor lack access to affordable food, vast quantities of food rot due to poor storage. The government does not seem to know how to handle a glut. A large majority of people dependent on agriculture face a threat to their livelihood as returns from farming decline and costs escalate. Farm labourers move to cities in search of better work. Daily wages back home rise, eating up a larger slice of farmers’ revenue. A team of experts led by M.S. Swaminathan has studied various aspects of the deepening agricultural crisis, but their reports gather dust as the governments in states and at the Centre have other priorities.

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110826/edit.htm#1

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