Hyderabad, March 21: Telangana aims to get ‘suicide free’ by helping the farmers of the state. The State government will address the farm sector crisis and it will adopt a multi-pronged approach for achieving ‘suicide free’ state.
Replying to the discussion on the budget demands pertaining to Agriculture Department in the Assembly the Minister for Agriculture Pocharam Srinivas Reddy asserted that a debt-free peasant community and a suicide-free Telangana are the ultimate goals the State government.
Stating that suicides of farmers were due to decades of desperation, he said the State government had initiated a slew of measures to improve the dwindling fortunes of farmers. “The government is committed to addressing the farm sector crisis and it has adopted a multi-pronged approach for this purpose,” he said.
The State government programmes have started paying rich dividends, he said, and hoped that it would help bring the State youth back to villages. In an obvious reference to members who pointed out that the budgetary allocation for farm sector had come down from Rs 6,663 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 5,899 crore in 2017-18, he said the overall allocation to the sector was Rs 7,184 crore.
The Minister also said that the government would be taking an assistance of Rs 1,000 crore from the Nabard in the next fiscal. The allocation for crop insurance was also increased from Rs 169 crore to Rs 224 crore. Stating that the agriculture sector continued to enjoy high priority, he said the food grain production, which dropped to 51.45 lakh tonnes in 2015-16 from 72 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 because of drought conditions, was expected to go up to 84.66 lakh tonnes this year as things started looking up for the State due to successful implementation of different irrigation projects.
The government had appointed 1,100 agriculture extension officers additionally. As part of its efforts to reach out to every farmer’s needs including soil health testing, it had decided to set up one mini soil testing lab for every extension officer (AEO). The Centre had given its green signal for setting up as many as 2,000 mini soil testing labs and 600 labs would be set up initially. Funds were already released for the purpose.
The Minister said the major handicap of the farmer was that he had no role in pricing his produce. The Minimum Support Price decided by the Centre was influenced by different factors, Reddy said, adding that farmers can be assured of a fair deal only when his voice is given due weightage in the aspect.