THANJAVUR: Farmers in the delta district of Tamil Nadu are disappointed with the State Budget that was presented on Friday morning, primarily as their hopes for a waiver of farm loans taken through cooperative societies were dashed.
"The farmers, particularly those who were severely affected by Cyclone Gaja, were expecting a waiver of farm loans availed through cooperative societies," said Kakkarai R Sukumaran, vice-president of Thamizhaga Vivasaya Sangangalin Koottiyakkam. "We were disappointed as there were no announcement to this effect," he said.
Mannargudi S Ranganathan, general secretary of Cauvery delta farmers' welfare association, said the loans of small and marginal farmers could have been written off and those of large farmers could have been restructured so that they could be paid off over three years without interest.
Ranganathan, however, welcomed the announcement that 2,000 solar-powered pumpsets with 10HP capacity would be provided with subsidy. "Earlier 5HP pumpsets were given which could not pump water as the groundwater levels had gone down," he said. He said all the agriculture pumpsets should be replaced by solar-powered ones.
As far as the proposal for providing micro-irrigation to 2 lakh hectares of land with a Rs 1,361 crore- subsidy, Ranganathan said drip irrigation was a failure for sugarcane and was not suitable for paddy. "Drip irrigation could be deployed for dryland crops and the sprinkler could be considered for other crops," he said.
As far as the Rs 300 crore allocated for the Kudimaramathu scheme was concerned, the veteran farmer said sand mining from river beds should be stopped as the silt level had gone down and water from the river could not flow through irrigation channels from the river. "The sand mining should be stopped completely or should be done only with a gap of five years so that sand the sand be replenished in the meanwhile," he added.
S Vimalnathan of Swamimalai said the increase in the crop loan from Rs 8,000 crores to Rs 10,000 crore was not sufficient as the cost of cultivation had increased and the scale of finance fixed by banks had also increased. The net result was that there would be no loan for new farmers or extension of area compared to the current year, he said. He also expressed disappointment that a co-op loan waiver had not been announced.
Vimalnathan also said the incentive of Rs 200 per tonne for sugarcane was far below the Rs 550 tonne given as the incremental price under the earlier State Advisory Price (SAP) system. The incentive should be increased to Rs 550, he added. Similarly, the incentive for paddy had been stagnant for many years at Rs 50 and Rs 70 for common and fine varieties of paddy respectively. He said that in 1978, Rs 105 was given as an incentive for paddy. He said farmers were also hoping for an income support scheme as offered by Telangana State Government and were disappointed.