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DEPARTMENT NO. 2:-

AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE & SERICULTURE

Latest loan Waivers for  farmers  etc  in AP

The land mark decision of the UPA Government– Loan waiver of the farmers – benefited 77.87 lakh  farmers  out of  1.3 crore farmers  in Andhra Pradesh  to the  tune of Rs.5027.44 crore.

The benefits were enjoyed by the small and marginal farmers  who had taken loans up to  March   31-3-2007 and had not  repaid  with pending over dues  till 29-2-2008.

 The Andhra Pradesh government has unleashed  its own  loan waiver scheme for the  farmers  who had taken  from the cooperative  societies.

The state agriculture minister announced   in the state assembly  during the   budget session that    nearly  37.40 lakh farmers  of the cooperative   sector benefited   to the tune of Rs.5027.44  crore.

This agricultural season in Andhra Pradesh is expected to be a bonanza for the farmers once again. Thanks to the bountiful rainfall for the fourth consecutive year.  The farm sector in the state is on up-swing street with cropping operation in record 82 lakh hectares and projected production 190 lakh metric tones of food grains and pulses in the current khariff season.

AP has improved its position in food grain from the 6th position to 3rd position. Oil seeds production is expected to be 29 lakh metric tones, a growth of 61.80 percent. As for crop productivity, this years kharif season recorded the highest ever productivity in rice, maize and groundnut.

In the words of the Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy “Rain God” (Varuna) has been very good to us for the fourth year that there will be no starvation or suicides of farmers with adequate work and also food grain production“.

The strategic initiatives introduced by the dynamic Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy has retrieved the farmers from the throes of suicides and rejuvenated the economic activity in the agriculture sector.

The UPA Government initiative of farmers loan waiver announced in the Union budget will help nearly 60 lakh small and marginal farmers in Andhra Pradesh to the tune of Rs.12000 crore. The farmers are already beneficiaries of a special interest waiver scheme of the Prime Minister in 2005-06 to the tune of Rs.1962 crore.

State Budget
In the 2008-09 budget the state government has provided an allocation of Rs.1666 crore for agriculture (257 percent increase) besides a Rs.2723 crore allocation for the Agriculture and allied sector (against Rs.116 crore of last year) registering a 144 percent increase over previous year.

They include provision of easy and low cost agriculture credit at 3 percent interest to agriculture sector (PAVALA VADDI) and a sum of Rs.310 crore allocated during the year 2008-09.

The objective is to achieve a four percent growth in agriculture and allied sector. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana is being implemented with a fund of Rs.400 crore.

Andhra Pradesh has launched a new and unique Pasu Kranti scheme to promote livestock as one of the major sources of livelihood for rural masses with Rs.200 crore allocation. During the current year the government has plans to distribute one lakh milch animals.

A centre for advance research on livestock at Pulivendula, Kadapa district over 644 acres with Rs.100 crore also being grounded. The focus is also on establishing food processing units to facilitate farmers to take advantage of short term crops of tomato, vegetables etc. The Department of Agricultural Marketing is converted into Department of Food Processing and Marketing to achieve the target.

The measures like free power to farmers, cheaper agriculture credit, credit eligibility to tenancy farmers, mega irrigation projects, Rythu chaitanya yatras, digital innovations for soil testing and  alternate crop strategies have all helped in bringing large areas under cultivation and increasing food production  in the State.

As a tribute to the performance of the agriculture sector in the State, the Union Government had chosen AP as a model state for its food security mission to increase buffer stock for contingency and disaster mitigation needs.

Farmer’s Welfare :

The nine years of TDP rule had earned the state a new identity as “Suicide Andhra”. Inheriting a State which accounted for six suicides  of farmers every day, the YSR Government struggled to give a helping hand to the poor farmer and revive the almost defunct agricultural activity which had buckled down under drought and official neglect.

The Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy envisaged a three point formulae to revive economic activity in villages, empower farmers and women and to generate employment opportunities in villages.  Free power for Agriculture initiative, though criticized initially by all, has now been accepted as the most viable and suitable measure to give farmers of arid and rain fed and ground water scarce fields, a boost to go back to agricultural activity. Provision of cheap agriculture credit and finally scientific approach and farmer’s partnership were the other initiatives which helped achieve record food grain production and generate employment opportunities in the state.

Undeterred by opposition missiles both in the Assembly and outside the Chief Minister put the insight and understanding of the farmer’s woes he had gained during his long Padayatra in the State.  The Farmers Welfare Commission headed by Prof. Jayati Gosh of JNU and the Agricultural Technology Mission headed by  D.A.V.Somayajulu  are some of the  examples that denotes his zeal to provide a long term  relief to farmers and whip up economic activity in  rural economy .

To stem the farmers suicides the YSR government introduced moratorium on farmers debts, improved the institutional agricultural credit and also conducted  Rytu Sadassulu to spread awareness on  improvised crops, seeds, fertilizers, scientific methods, relief  to  farmers who committed suicides. The Chief Minister took lead in appraising the farmers of issues like alternate crop patterns, MSP, Micro Irrigation etc., in his unique program – RAJIV PALLE BATA- by touring the villages in each district on his popular hi-tech bus.

His programs and the confidence he infused among the farmers and middle classes has brought down the number of suicides from double digits of 2004 to almost sub zero levels in 2006. The Helpline for farmers, land distribution for landless, moratorium on private money lenders credit and formation of Rytu Mitras (SHGs of farmers) all have gone a long way in transforming the agricultural sector in the State. Notable features of the Agriculture strategy and agricultural credit plan are :

  1. Credit deposit ratio in Agriculture sector stood at 90.5 percent on September 2007 as of 71.2 percent in May 2004 when Congress party took over from TDP.
  2. Priority sector agricultural advances stood at Rs.37,775 crore  -  134 percent growth as against  Rs.16,128 crore in 2004.
  3. Annual credit plan was Rs.24,356 crore – 58 percent increase over past year with  target of  Rs.42,000 crore for 2007-08.
  4. Crops loans of Rs.11,297 crore achieved for kharif of 2007 (103 percent of target).
  5. Target for Rabi 2007 crop loans is Rs.6003 crore.
  6. 2.73 lakh new farmers (tenant farmers) to be covered by the scheme in addition to 19.56 lakh tenants covered since 2004.
  7. Debt swapping scheme for farmers on the lines of schemes for SHGs - 12,015 farmers given Rs.312 crore under the scheme so far.
  8. Financial inclusion being piloted in Srikakulam district and to be completed in all 21 districts by June, 2008.

Cooperative Sector:

Cooperative loans have doubled from Rs.1669.54 crore of 2003-04 to Rs.3141.72 crore in 2006-07, a 30 percent annual growth. Fifty percent of additional farmers were brought under the cooperative umbrella from 16.15 lakh farmers in 2004 to 24.5 lakh farmers in 2006-07.

Cooperative loans given at five percent to farmers with the Government subsidy of six percent of interest on loans. In the past three years Rs.316.69 crore of interest rebate given to 43,31,720 farmers. In contrast during the TDP regime of nine years only Rs.556.38 crore were given to 57,22,244 farmers. 16.77 lakhs   farmers under cooperative societies benefited from the PM’s relief package.

AP has implemented the Prof. Vaidyanathan Commission report for strengthening the cooperative credit delivery system. Share capital assistance of Rs,216 crore provided to nine District Cooperative Central Banks to make them eligible for NABARD refinance. Rs.502 crore released in the first phase to restructure and revive 1506 PACS with a state government contribution of Rs.78.64 crore.

The Congress Government also amended the AP Cooperative Societies Act, 1964 to provide financial and administrative autonomy to the cooperative credit institutions for effective functioning as credit institutions.

Elections were held for cooperative bodies abandoned for over 10 years of TDP rule.

The YSR government brought down the interest rates for agricultural credit from a whopping 12-14 percent to seven percent. While the TDP government provided Rs.262 crore as agricultural input subsidy for its entire 9 years, YS government has successfully provided Rs.190 crore in just three years. While the tally of TDP government in agricultural credit sanctions between 1994-2004 is Rs.38,178 crore, as against, the YSR government ensured a record agricultural credit of Rs.28,865 crore in the last 2 years itself.

It will become another landmark milestone in the agricultural history of the country  that  it was during  YSR regime only  18,35,031 tenancy farmers were facilitated with Rs.155 crore of agricultural loans which was denied to them since the day of independence. Their number is slated to touch the 36,00,000 mark and a credit of Rs.500 crore is slated for the current crop year.

The new initiatives included:

 High yielding and less water consuming paddy variety of - Srivari be encouraged.
79.15 lakh farmers  provided  Kisan Credit Cards 
Waiver of  stamp duty on agricultural loans for small and marginal farmers
 Seed Villages program in 2200 villages to end seed shortages
Formation of WTO cell in Agricultural Commissioners office to promote awareness on global trends in agricultural produce marketing and distribution.
AP Agricultural Technology Mission focusing on backyard economic activity to promote non-farm income: Poultry, Diary, Aquaculture, Sericulture and rain water conservation etc.
Setting up 12500 POLAM-BADI schools to educate farmers on use of pesticides and insecticides.
33,741 Wormi Compost units with a subsidy of Rs.16 crore to encourage organic fertilizers.
Allocated Rs.92 crore to provide latest agricultural implements to farmers.
Crop insurance introduced with entire village as a single unit on a pilot basis in Karimnagar district.
BHU-BHARATI: Digitalization of Revenue records- Integrated Land record system introduced on a pilot basis in Nizamabad district.
Special initiatives to give farmers a higher rate than MSP for particular crops.
For the first time involved of Women – Swa-Shakti (SHG) in procurement of 5.65 lakh tons of Maize worth Rs.305 crore in 12 districts.
Future program is to let the SHG’s  procure  Paddy and  Dal  at MSP rates and saved the farmers from cheating and under cutting by private dealers and  MNC’s
Successfully procured Supreme Court intervention to reduce the prices of Bt Cotton seeds sold by MNC’s from Rs.1850 to Rs.750 per packet.
Providing links to vegetable farmers with Reliance and Metro retail outlets to get fair remuneration for their produce.
Supported plantation farmers to the tune of Rs.86 crore as part of AP state Horticultural Mission.
Providing a subsidy of Rs.10,000 per acre to farmers to encourage Pungamia and Jethroba cultivation for bio-diesel.
Provided a hike of Re. One in purchase price of Milk to support Dairy farmers.

Farmer’s suicides prevention package
Ever since he took over reins of Government in Andhra Pradesh, the Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy concentrated on mitigating the hardships of the farmers, the bread earners to the nation.

The short term measures included Farmers Helpline, special cells at district level to guide farmers to advise on how to escape from clutches of private money lenders, a special relief package of Rs.1.5 lakh to support the families whose bread earner had committed suicide. The package comprised of a Rs.50,000 towards resolving the farmers debts (all private and institutional), Rs. one lakh towards rehabilitation of his family to resume agricultural activity.

This package was in sharp contrast to the approach of the TDP government, which refused to provide a helping hand to farmers in distress and announce any relief by terming such measures would only increase the tempo of suicides! .

The Prime Minister who visited the remote villages and met members of families who had committed suicides had also granted an additional Rs.50,000 and a house under Indira Awas Yojana in addition to the state government relief package.

The long term measures aimed at sustained and comprehensive   revival of agricultural activity including the NREGS were launched in 16 districts of Andhra Pradesh of the 31 districts in the country where farmers lived in dire straits and their tales of woes and hardships attracted national attention.

The package comprised of various development activities at an expenditure of Rs.9650 crore  to rejuvenate the  rural economy  in the state by facilitating the farmers  with  easy crop credit at subsidized  interests , micro irrigation, water-shed, rain harvesting and promotion of plantation crops and alternate crop patterns to generate more income and improved purchasing capacity of the farmers.

Adarsha Rytu:

In a bid to involve the farmer in the task of increasing food grain production the AP government chose to induct 50,000 farmers to become the – Adarsha Rythu - guiding stars for others. 25,000 farmers were chosen in the first phase with a honorarium of Rs.1000 per month with a budget of Rs.36.5 crore to impart improvised agricultural techniques to promote agriculture production. Their major mission was to bring the innovations from the lab to land to make farming activity self reliant and also sustainable.

As part of the ADARSHA RYTHU concept, mandal level agricultural research centers (MRC) were also being set up  to assist the farmers in seeds, fertilizers and crop selections for each crop. The State government also selected 1100 villages to grow seeds of all crops on a scientific basis to relieve the farmers from the clutches of unscrupulous traders and middlemen. These villages would soon be capable of providing 10 lakh tones of seeds of staple and cash crops.

The first “District Adarsha Rythu Sabha” was held in Basanthpoor (V), Nyalkal (M) Medak district on 19.9.2007.

There are about 1400 graduate Adarsha Rythus deployed in the state. It is proposed to train them in issues like knowledge about Foundation Seed, Certified Seed, Quick tests of soils and fertilizers, Computer trainings, Polambadi and WTO, its implications etc.

Women Adarsha Rythus may be given training to create awareness bout the “Gender specific issues’’. There are about 1200 Women Adarsha Rythus deployed in the state.

Each Adarsha Rythu is given a Adarsha Rythu Diary and a Register to Identify the farm holdings and collect information on the type of soils, extent of crops grown, particulars of the credit availement etc. in the prescribed proformas.

The efforts of all the three years of toiling and struggle to empower the farmers had paid good dividends in Andhra Pradesh. Food grain production has reached the mark of 114 lakh metric tones in 252 lakh acres in the entire crop year of 2006-07 and the target for the current year is to cross 135 lakh metric tones with nearly 275 lakh acres under cultivation.

Andhra Pradesh also is at the forefront of protecting the farmer from the onslaught of the middle men and traders. The state government took on the mighty global conglomerates like the Monsanto and Mahyco and brought down the sale price of BT cotton seeds in the state to just Rs.750 as against their overpriced rates of Rs.1400 per packet of 450 grams of seeds.

The state government filed a writ petition in the MRTP tribunal against the global giant besides enacting legislation to compel the Monsanto and its licensed subsidiaries to sell Bt cotton seeds at Rs.750 per packet only.

Agri Credit:

The YSR regime also achieved the impossible to wean away the farmer from the influence of the private money lenders. By strengthening the  institutional credit for agriculture the state government achieved an annual credit plan  of  Rs.24,356  crore – 58 percent increase over past year with  target of  Rs.42,000  crore for  2007-08.

The institutional farm credit stood at only Rs. 9667 crore during the TDP regime in 2003.  In the last three years the YSR government had brought  19,56,402  farmers  additionally  under the purview of institutional credit at the rate of five lakh farmers per annum by weaning them away from the clutches of  private money lenders .

The Chief Minister  Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy unfurled the flag of the Indian farmer at the  International Agriculture Congress at   Saint Louis earlier in 2007 earned encomiums from  global leaders US President George Bush, World Bank President, James  Wolfenson and the Governor of California, Arnold Schezwagner.

During his visit to the state capital, President George Bush said the strides made in agriculture in Andhra Pradesh would place it in pedestal as a role model for the entire south east Asian countries The Californian Governor Arnold Schezwagner is due to visit Hyderabad for an on the hands experience of the agricultural inroads made by  the state.

Sericulture
The sericulture sector got a fillip with promotion of cultivation of Mulberry, Tassar and Eri for natural silk varieties in the state.

  • An additional 1.09 lakh acres are under Mulberry cultivation.
  • 3000 acres under Tassar in tribal pockets, earning an annual income of Rs.15,000. Target to bring 8000 acres   more.
  • 5000 Ericulturists in Telengana region earn Rs.6000 per annum from tapioca and castor crops.
  • Average Bivoltine production is 59 kgs for 100 Dfls., to generate 1541 MT.
  • Departmental website and SMS facility for market information.
  • AP government has plans to provide Rs.2575.91 lakhs under plan and Rs.3375.57 lakhs under non-plan for sericulture development.

Horticulture:

AP government has launched a horticulture mission for all-round promotion of the sector which contributed 4.84 percent to state GSDP in 2006-07.

Consumption of dry fruits (19%), fresh fruits (12%) and  vegetables ( 11%)  growing  as against  only  6 percent  growth in edible oils, pulses and milk products  and seven percent  growth in cereals. AP ranks first in fruits, second in spices, third in flowers in the country.

AP ranked first in production of mango, citrus, mosambi, papaya, chillies, turmeric and oil-palm, and in tomato and coriander, 3rd in  pomegranate, 4th in tapioca, bhendi, grapes, 5th in banana, sapota, brinjal, onion and ginger (NHB data base-2005).

Presently   16,49,701  hectares  under horticulture production  at    1,44,19,720 MT of  fruits, plantation crops, vegetables, spices, tuber crops, cut flowers, flowers, medicinal and aromatic plants  besides 1253 million coconuts and 67.05 lakh no of cut flowers.

Key strategies to improve the horticultural production were –

  • Micro irrigation,
  • Facilitating processing, marketing and  exports,
  • Development of post harvesting infrastructure like pre-cooling, cold storages etc
  • Rejuvenation of  old orchards, organic farming
  • Emphasis on knowledge inputs
  • Focused  adoption of modern technologies
  • Evolve  sustainable farming
  • Emphasis on post production technologies
  • Enhance production to 300 lakh tons by 2011 from the present 128.42 lakh tones.
  • Coverage of waste land for producing fruits and vegetables

Focused districts – Srikakulam, West Godavari, Guntur, Prakasham, Kadapa, Anantpur, Kurnool, Mahbubnagar, Rangareddy, Nizamabad,Khamma, Nalgonda, Nellore, Chittoor, Medak, Adilabad, karimnagar, and Warangal.

Focused crops - mango, sweet orange, sapota, pomegranate, banana, papaya, cashew, loose flowers, coriander and turmeric.

Achievements:

  • 57,858 ha brought under horticulture in addition to 8,06,045  ha
  • 24,750 senile and un-productive gardens  rejuvenated
  • 2868  ha  brought under floriculture
  • Rs.159.37 crore under action plan for 2007-08.
  • Micro irrigation on 68378 hectares against a target of 1,20,000 ha with financial outlay of Rs.496.74 crore and a subsidy of Rs.360.02 crore .
  • Proposal to set up 100 APIMP centres in all districts.
  • Identifying and training of para-workers on MI system maintenance.

 

As of October 31, 2007 micro irrigation infrastructure in 68378 hectares has been achieved as against a target of 1.20 lakh hectares.

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