In a big boost to Telangana’s ailing farm sector and to end farmers’ suicides, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has announced a massive populist scheme of free fertilisers and direct cash at the rate of Rs 4,000 per acre to all cultivators from the coming agricultural season, which begins June 2018.
The amount through direct cash would be directly deposited in the farmers’ bank accounts, thus reducing the interference of middlemen. This move is expected to benefit around 55 lakh farmers who cultivate about one crore acres during the kharif season. They usually consume around 26 lakh tones of fertilisers every year.
KCR announced the sops after farmers gathered at his official residence in Hyderabad on Thursday. He claimed that this is the first time in India that a state government will bear the cost of fertilizers.
The move is expected to cost the exchequer around Rs 3,000 crore. This comes close on the heels of payment of last of the four installments of Rs 4,000 crore to banks towards the waiver of farm loans announced three years ago. With this, Telangana has borne the full cost of Rs 17,000 crore of farm loan waiver. The TRS government, which promised a farm loan waiver in its election manifesto of 2014, has been implementing the scheme in a phased manner. It has paid a total Rs 17,000 crore to the bankers in four installments since then. Now that the full amount has been reimbursed by the government, the banks can give fresh loans to around 36 lakh agricultural borrowers.
Agriculture experts and farmer activists have hailed the CM’s decision as a big boost to the beleaguered agriculture sector.
“Even this burden is expected to go down as KCR’s earlier announcement of distribution of around 4.5 crore goats and sheep to around 33 lakh shepherds would create sufficient bio-manure which would replace the costly chemical fertilisers,” Dr Pidigam Siadaiah, agriculture scientist told The Sunday Guardian.
Dr Saidaiah, who works with Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, is of the view that the decision to supply free fertilizers and a cash benefit would ease the burden on small and marginal farmers. G.V. Ramanjaneyulu, founder president of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad, expressed doubt over whether tenant cultivators would be eligible for the sop. “The farmers should be given freedom to buy not only chemical but also organic fertilizers,” he added.
Telangana Agriculture Secretary C. Parthasarathi told this newspaper that the details of the latest sops to farmers were being