VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh witnessed a turn around in the agriculture sector in the last one year. From massive decline of 17.66 lakh tonnes of food grain production in 2018-19 compared 2017-18, the State witnessed a substantial increase of 21.81 lakh tonnes of food grain production in 2019-20.
As explained in the Socio-economic Survey 2019-20, if decrease in rainfall was the main reason for decline in food production, timely rains in significant amount was the reason for the turnaround. But, it is not the only reason. The State government’s proactive approach with a focus on improving basic infrastructure and providing a helping hand to the farmers in time is an important reason.
At the same time, 210 farmer suicides reported from June 1, 2019 are a reminder that farmers’ distress continues in the State. The government had paid financial assistance of Rs 7 lakh each to bereaved families of those farmers who ended life along with Rs 5 lakh to each of the reverified 417 cases from 2014 to 2019. During 2019-20, government has provided Rs 1 crore to each district collectors as corpus fund for providing immediate assistance to the family members of the farmers who committed suicide.
As recently explained by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy , compensation to the bereaved families is not a permanent solution and addressing the issues that prompted farmers to take the extreme step is the need of the hour.
The survey says that in the last one year, various strategic initiatives were taken, which by and large improved the living standards of people. Extending financial assistance of Rs 13,500 per farmer family, including Rs 6,000 from PM Kisan, under YSR Rythu Bharosa scheme as an investment support was one such step. Tenant farmers, who make up a large part of cultivators in the State, were also made eligible. A total Rs 6,534.07 crore was spent for the purpose.
Further, interest-free loans and free crop insurance to all farmers of notified crops reduced financial burden on the farmers. During Kharif 2019-20, Rs 52,669 crore was disbursed as crop loans against the target of Rs 51,240 crore, that is 103 per cent. During Rabi 2019-20 (upto April), Rs 25,329 crore was disbursed as against the target of Rs 32,760 crore. The Annual Credit Plan proposed for the year 2020-21 is Rs 1,46,302 crore, which is Rs 31,302 crore more than last year.
Further focus now is on revival of cooperatives and now 2,051 Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) have been proposed to be computerised with an estimated cost of Rs 125 crore and the detailed project report DPR has been sent to the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) for funding.
While helping the farmers financially, training in the form of YSR Polambadi to ensure farmers take right decisions and soil health cards, indicating status of the soil of their farms to enable them to take informed decisions, were implemented. Integrated Nutrient Management Scheme, Subsidy Seed Distribution and Seed Village programme are yielding results.
AP Drought Mitigation Project, poly cropping under Navadhanya scheme to ensure crop returns with two or more crops at the same time, Custom Hiring Centres to hire farm machinery and Farmer Producers Organisation are some other initiatives taken to make farmers stress-free. Now, 10,641 Rythu Bharosa Kentralu (RBKs) have been established to provide the latest production technologies and quality inputs to the farmers.
To improve food grain production, Rs 340-crore Andhra Pradesh Integrated Irrigation and Agriculture Transformation Project (APII and ATP), a World Bank-aided project, is being implemented. It has four key pillars — improving agriculture efficiency at farm level, promoting adaptive, sustainable and resilient agriculture practices, supporting climate-friendly market and agribusiness promotion and project management and capacity building. It is being implemented in 1,204 irrigated villages in 12 districts of the State.
Even in the case of horticulture (fruits, vegetables, flowers, plantation crops, spices, medicinal and aromatic plants), compared to 2018-19, the State performed well. Against the production of 305.20 lakh metric tonnes in 2018-19, the production in 2019-20 was 312.78 lakh metric tonnes. Now, the State is emerging as the largest producer of coca and the fruit bowl of South India.