Farmer's Agenda proposed for 2014 elections
Narendra Ch | 20 Mar 2014

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy, Formerly Chief Technical Advisor – WMO/UN & Expert – FAO/UN; Fellow, Andhra Pradesh Akademy of Sciences and Convenor, Forum for a better Hyderabad proposed Farmer’s Agenda for 2014 elections, mooted by Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV). He said that he originally proposed this in 2001 “Agriculture Black Paper” to counter “Agriculture White Paper” – that was developed to encourage corporate agriculture --, which was released by the Congress Legisaltive Praty in Andhra Pradesh in February, 2001. The contents of the agenda :

1.         Funds -- Demand for funds is most ambitious – 10% plus 25% of it as additional allocations every year [there is some difference in wording in English & Telugu version] means in five years it becomes 20% of the budget allocations.  The central government is allocating lakhs of crores but nobody knows where this is going and how much is coming back. This needs an answer. These amounts could be effectively used.
2.         Flow Irrigation -- already we are using in excess over the allocated share under Bachawat Tribunal award from river Krishna.  According to Bachawat Tribunal, we will not get allocated water in 25% of the years. Projects and crops were planned keeping this in mind. With the Brijesh Kumar tribunal award we will not be getting allocated water in 75% of the years. That means surplus water is available to use in only 25% of the years.  With this, we have to change the water use and crop plan that overcome this situation. On this government filed SLP on legal grounds and I submitted an open letter to CJ of SC on technical issues asking him to consider it as suo-motto PIL under Quid-Pro-Co to reject the order and take action on the three judges of the tribunal for technical fraud to favor Karnataka.
3.         Climate change -- In the coming six decades on majority of the years we may have to face more drought years under natural variability in climate change perspective. This will severely affect the ground water based agriculture.  Here, farmers must change from water intensive crops to crops and cropping pattern that are less water intense along with animal husbandry to supplement the income. Farmers must follow better water management practices such as micro irrigation. This becomes part of income security.
4.         Irrigation projects – Government must give top priority to complete irrigation projects – both flow and lift irrigation --.  It is not difficult to complete. The government can get the required fund through controlling granite industry alone. TV9 presented a story on the illegal part of granite mining in Karimnagar alone running into thousands of crores each year.
5.         Power sector – there is a need to control employees in this department, they have become white elephants. We must encourage coordination between cooperative farming groups and electricity department officials to get 7 hours free power. At present this is misused by government agencies and putting the burden on common man, an extra-burden. Also, at the same time farmers must change their attitude in changing the efficient way of using power. At present 50% of the power under this is shown as inefficiently used.  The pilferage at government level, industry level and farmers’ levels are increasing and as a result, power charges increasing day by day burdening common man.
6.         Power projects/production – Government must make mandatory to use solar power in domestic use both in urban and rural.  Power saved is power produced, so bring down the energy losses to minimal. Build thermal power plants under public sector and discourage private players in this sector. By controlling illegal export of rice, cotton, etc. government can earn thousands of crores, which can be diverted to build these. Also, government must stream line salaries of government employees – previous government blindly increased the salaries & perks and thus this part reached around half the budgetary allocations. This is a big white elephant on the exchequer.
7.         Federations – we have seen these federations. They are solely serving MNCs interests and thus amassing wealth.  GMOs are dumped on Indian farmers because of these groups only. We need cooperative farming at village level to overcome several ills of rural agriculture at farmers’ level & village/Mandal levels. This will help to get fertilizers without much hassles as government agreed to pay subsidy directly to farmers.
8.         State Agriculture Boards – They become white elephants like State Seed Corporation. It is essential to have crop-wise commodity boards to improve and help in getting better yields.  These must be integrated with seed village programmes & cooperative farming system.
9.         Minimum support price -- Though government is issuing support prices for different crops, it is not reaching the farmers as middlemen are playing games.  In this connection, I brought to the notice of PM on this issue. This was forwarded to Agriculture Ministry. The Deputy Minister visited AP and discussed with CM and asked him to implement minimum support price by paying through checks.  Everybody talks of cost effective minimum support price but nobody looks at government investment in this – irrigation, power, subsidies, loans – instead looking at agriculture system to improve the economy of the farmers.  As long as we go on harping on the government money we achieve little in agriculture and economy of farmers.
10.       Storage facilities -- We must demand to build storage facilities at local/Mandal level to reduce post-harvest losses and destruction under unusual conditions.
11.       Special packages --    We must not encourage special packages and ex-gratia to suicide victim family and instead develop a permanent alternate income generation mechanism at vulnerable local level and at the same time encourage farmers to move to systems that are less risky along with agribusiness.
12.       Discourage --  Discourage water intensive and high input cropping, particularly commercial crops such as cotton, groundnut, etc.  Where ever such system is in practice, we must demand to implement crop rotation system similar to tobacco.
13.       Encourage – Under rainfed agriculture and lift irrigation implement inter-cropping or multiple crops systems along with animal husbandry.