TDP government Should Back Farmers, Not Middlemen   

AP Leader of Opposition YS Jagan Mohan Reddy - Sakshi Post

Draksharamam, East Godavari District: My Padayatra today moved through Kuyyeru, Balantram, Vegayammapeta and Draksharamam. Mango farmers from Chittoor came and met me this morning. They described to me the difficulties they faced in trying to sell their produce for which they laboured all through the year. Frustrated at the futility of the exercise of trying to get a fair price, they dumped their mango harvest on the roads! This shows their misery. They were forced to resort to this because they could not get reasonable price for the crop and when they tried to sell it, they began slipping into a deeper crisis of loans and debts.

“This year early in the season, the crop got damaged. Added to this, vagaries of nature in the form of unseasonal rain, compounded our suffering.  We thought we would get a reasonable price for whatever little we could harvest, but syndicates and middlemen made life impossible for us when it came to selling our crop, putting us to great loss.”

The mango farmers expressed their anguish saying that TDP MP from Guntur, Galla Jayadev’s Galla Foods and Chittoor TDP MLA’s son’s Srini Foods are among prominent TDP leaders who own mango pulp factories which have formed a syndicate. They have pegged the price at Rs.4000 per tonne, while it should fetch Rs.23,000!

Read: CRDA Farmers Meet YS Jagan

Heritage Foods, Galla Foods and Srini Foods are among ventures with galloping profits, in the region, while farmers who work tirelessly for their harvest have been slipping down the slope of losses. One can imagine the pathetic state of farmers judging by the fact that the chief minister, panchayat raj minister and food processing minister represent this district and yet, the farmers are at the mercy of middlemen.

What should one attribute this dominance by middlemen to—government neglect and lack of regulatory mechanisms, connivance? That they are hand in glove with factory managements is clear. What makes it worse is that the chief minister himself is encouraging middlemen. This is at the heart of the farmers’ tragedy. If the chief minister really wills it, he can easily ensure that the farmers get a profitable deal and prosper.

Employees of the mid-day meal scheme met me to narrate their problems and describe their plight. “We borrow money to buy provisions to feed the children and cook for them. We have really fallen upon bad times and have not been paid since September last year. Bills of provisions are not being paid and survival has become a challenge for us. The government pays Rs.4.13 which is a pittance. The rice supplied is of inferior grade and the eggs of poor quality.  How do we survive? How do we feed the children and give them good food?“ These were their pointed questions. To make matters worse, the government was planning to hand over the process to private agencies, using the pretext that they were providing low-quality food to children, they complained.

This TDP government has been watering down the system methodically, be it related to cooperative diaries, sugar factories, government hospitals or schools. At the core of the government’s policy is selfish interest. Chandrababu Naidu knows treading along this path better than anyone else.

I have a question for the chief minister—is it not true that sugar factory in your own district has been shut down and sugarcane farmers driven to serious losses? Is it not a fact that Vijaya dairy has been closed affecting the lives of dairy farmers? Have you not emerged as a leader patronising middlemen who collude with factory managements? Hasn’t this policy severely affected tomato and mango farmers, plunging them into a crisis?  Is this not unjust? If this is the state of affairs in your own district, can you imagine the plight of farmers elsewhere? Who are you trying to deceive when you claim that Andhra Pradesh is making rapid strides in agriculture when you are responsible for driving it into a state of deep crisis?

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