Dundigam Cross, Potti Sreeramulu Nellore District: This morning on my Padayatra, I came across a group of farmers and workers and once again I saw the same expression of indescribable suffering on their faces. At Korimerla, a group of farmers met me. They had taken small areas of agricultural land on lease on which they had sown the Chana crop. For three years now they were not getting a price worth selling for, and as a result their debts were rising.

They had no choice but to shell out Rs. 6000 per acre whether they had a good harvest which fetched a fair price in the market or not. If the investment was included, the farmer ended up spending Rs. 22,000 on an acre.

There was a huge gap between the market price and the expenditure incurred by the farmer, who did not even get Rs.3,500 per quintal for what should have been at least Rs.9,500. They did not have the requisite storage facilities, these farmers lamented. One can well understand their plight and sympathise with their state. Each time Chandrababu Naidu came to power, the farmer found himself at the receiving end and suffered the most. My resolve to do my utmost to better the condition of the farmer got strengthened even further. Navarathnalu, as a whole, therefore occupies an important place in my scheme of things for this very reason.

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While I was near Korimerla, some women came rushing to me from the fields and I waited till they approached me. Their faces, drenched in sweat, they were extremely happy to meet and greet me even during the course of a hard day’s work. Their palms were full of blisters and when asked about the reason, they said that they worked very hard all through the day and were not even paid Rs.150. Work was scarce and they were not being paid they said, with tears in their eyes. They said that their wages had not been paid for 7 to 8 months. The poorest of poor segments of society such as these women are not cared for and if their basic needs are neglected, what is one to say about such a government? Is there a government in place at all? I am even more determined now to strive to improve the condition of such suffering women and needy segments of society.

For two days now I have not been well with severe cough and cold and the dust on the roads outside seems to have affected my throat. However, I went ahead and had an informal get-together with Muslim brothers and sisters, and a very cordial one as expected.

At Juvvalakuntapalli, a woman belonging to a weaver’s family met me. She told me that she struggled through the whole day but could barely earn Rs.300. She said that even if she were to weave a sari all by herself, it would not fetch a reasonable price. At a very young age, she developed arthritis and low back pain, she lamented and her eyesight also got affected. This is precisely the reason why I had envisioned a pension scheme for women at the age of 45. I assured her that better days were around the corner.

I have a question for the Chief Minister. In the four years of your tenure, farmers have been put to untold suffering and their year-long labour proved unrewarding in the end, in terms of a reasonable price. What happened to your promise of price stabilisation fund of Rs.5000 crores?