VIJAYAWADA: The share of agriculture to Andhra Pradesh’s gross value added (GVA) is 37.27 per cent, almost double of the national level of 19.7 per cent and the highest after bifurcation of the State. The growth rate in agriculture and allied sectors was 16.03 per cent in 2019-20 against 6.54 per cent the previous fiscal. Officials attributed this to the pro-farmer measures of the Jagan Mohan Reddy government.
Speaking to TNIE on the eve of AP Farmers’ Day, celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of former chief minister late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Andhra Pradesh State Agriculture Mission (APSAM) vice-chairman MVS Nagi Reddy said the State has always been an agrarian economy with 62 per cent of the population dependent on it. Hence, the agriculture sector is important for achieving a double-digit growth rate. “When he was the chief minister, YS Rajasekhara Reddy understood this point and sought to put in place an elaborate agrarian, welfare and development policy regime. He implemented key components like crop loan waiver, free power and input subsidies for the crisis-ridden farmers and construction of major irrigation projects for the welfare of farming community,” he said.
According to Dr M Chandrasekhar Reddy, executive member of AP State Agriculture Mission, the economic freedom index reported that under YSR, AP was the fastest liberalising state. “The state’s average GDP growth shot up to 9.07 per cent in YSR’s government (2004-09) against 5.59 per cent in the TDP government (1994-99) even after it reduced fiscal deficit to 2.68 per cent of the GDP by 2008, well below the prescribed three per cent ceiling under FRBM norms. This was aided greatly by halving the revenue deficit as a proportion of the GDP,” he explained. Under YSR, the share of agriculture to the GDP was 30 per cent in the state and the average growth was 6.82 per cent per year in 2004-09. Further, the minimum wage was doubled from Rs 60 to Rs 120 per day during that period.
“Now, as he promised to take two steps forward, Jagan in the last two years has implemented a plethora of schemes, which is not only improving growth rate in agriculture and allied fields, as evident from increasing productivity, but is also lending a helping hand to the farmers in the form of incentives, subsidies and insurance coverage,” Nagi Reddy added. In the last 24 months, a total of Rs 51,366.98 crore was transferred to agriculture and allied stakeholders and farmers through direct benefit transfer. Budgetary allocations to agriculture and allied sectors increased from Rs 20,558 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 31,256.36 crore in 2021-22.
Chandarasekhar Reddy explained that besides continuing with agriculture specific policies introduced by YSR such as free power, Jagan set up AP State Agriculture Mission as a policy advisory body and also constituted agriculture advisory boards from mandal to state levels, clearing pending dues, extending input subsidies to the farmers during natural calamities in that very season, taking up construction of irrigation projects on priority, enhancing ex gratia to farmers who died by suicide from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh and continuing zero interest crop loans.
“The most important measure for agriculture and allied sectors’ development was setting up 10,778 Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs) as a one-stop solution for all the needs of farmers. From procurement of seeds to marking of their produce, they can depend on RBKs, besides updating their knowledge. Under the YSR Rythu Bharosa -- PM Kisan scheme, an investment incentive, 1.51 crore families were provided Rs 17,030 crore in the last two years. Free crop insurance scheme is another important welfare measure initiated by the government,” Chandrasekhar Reddy explained.
Budgetary allocation for agriculture
In the last 24 months, a total of Rs 51,366.98 cr was transferred to agriculture and allied stakeholders and farmers through direct benefit transfer. Budgetary allocations to agriculture and allied sectors increased from Rs 20,558 cr in 2019-20 to Rs 31,256.36 cr in 2021-22