THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With just a few days remaining for the election, farmers in the district voiced their needs regarding their expectation from the Central Government. Though agriculture is not a large contributor to the economy of the district, farmers in the outskirts including Vellayani, Neyyattinkara and Chenkal cultivate banana, paddy and several other vegetables.
P Sasi, a farmer from Amaravila, said, "We receive a meagre amount, Rs 5.40 per plantain from the Central Government when our crops are destroyed." According to farmers, the cyclone Ockhi had affected the plantain crops in the district and they received the compensation only after a year. This has resulted in huge debt among the plantain farmers. "I was unable to pay the lease amount owing to null profit last year. Therefore I had to take a loan to pay the lease amount.
The money I received for the loss was inadequate and I was unable to pay back the loan," said Sasi. Currently, he has a total of Rs five lakh loan in his name, wife's and in his mother's name in the State Bank of India and corporative banks.
The farmers complain about the negligence of the government in taking immediate measures after the crop destruction. "As we have less number of farmers in the district, our issues are not given priority," opined Rajan K, a paddy farmer.
The cost of fertilisers has increased over the past five years. "Earlier, phosphate fertiliser cost C340. It has now increased to C1160," said Rajan, a farmer in Neyyattinkara. Vegetable farmers are plagued with reduced subsidy amount. "For one acre of vegetable cultivation, we receive a total of C6000 as subsidy which is deficient," complained Giridharan S, a farmer in Chenkal.
Kummanam Rajasekharan (NDA candidate)
Kummanam Rajasekharan gives importance to small-scale farmers. According to him, the large-scale farmers do receive a lot of benefits from the government. With the help of the Government of India, he would like to bring integrated farming for the middle-class farmers. Rajasekharan wants to promote sustainable development in the agriculture sector.
According to him, only 30 per cent of the vegetables are produced in the state. To support small-scale farmers he intends to take measures to produce more vegetables in the district. The candidate would like to integrate the tourism sector with agriculture by connecting the farmers directly to the hotels.
Shashi Tharoor (UDF candidate)
Tharoor feels two areas that are of immediate concern even in this district which has only a small agrarian economy, are improving access to formal credit, boosting the income levels of farming households and improving the net area under irrigation. "There's a need to comprehensively assess the number of farming households that have still not received compensation for damages faced during the floods and I'll work with them on a case by case basis and highlight individual cases before the government so compensation is transferred without any further delayed," he said.
C Divakaran (LDF candidate)
C Divakaran promises to introduce an industrial unit for the rubber farmers in Parassala and Neyyattinkara. He said initiatives will be taken to provide better vegetable marketing platform to the farmers. Regarding pending loans, Divakaran says, "I shall talk to the banks to negotiate interest of the loans to the farmers. I will try to provide zero-interest loans to the farmers by getting grants for the interest of the Central Government." With the increased exports of tuber products from the state, he would like to bring extensive research in the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute.