Actor Jayasurya sticks to views on Kerala farmers' plight; draws criticism from Left social media handles

In his speech, the actor pointed out that a section of farmers went on a hunger strike on Uthradam Day to protest the non-payment of dues for procuring the paddy.
Malayalam actor Jayasurya
Malayalam actor Jayasurya

KOCHI: Actor Jayasurya stood his ground on the government's inept handling of farmers' welfare and said on Thursday that he raised the issue to highlight the plight of paddy farmers.

Jayasurya attracted trolls and critical comments from Left-backed social media handles after he spoke about the non-payment of dues to the paddy farmers. He also added that the youngsters are not choosing farming as a vocation due to the government's failure to ensure proper payments to farmers at the concluding session of 'Krishikoppam Kalamassery', an initiative to promote agriculture in his constituency by Minister P Rajeeve, on Monday.

The actor spoke after the speech by Agriculture Minister P Prasad, who said that the new generation was not taking up agriculture because they "do not want their dress to be dirtied". In his speech, the actor pointed out that a section of farmers went on a hunger strike on Uthradam Day to protest the non-payment of dues for procuring the paddy.

Jayasurya had also criticised Minister Prasad for his statement on the new generation being uninvolved in agriculture. "The agriculture minister said that the new generation doesn't like getting their clothes dirty. It is not dirt that stops them from farming. They are seeing their parents fasting on Thiruvonam. How will they be interested in farming then?" asked the actor.

Jayasurya cited the example of his friend and actor Krishnachand from Kumarakom, who he said took up the protest on behalf of the farmers after the SupplyCo failed to pay him and other farmers the amount for the paddy they sold in the last five or six months.

Jayasurya said he had no allegiance to any political party and that he was bringing up the farmers' issue just to highlight their plight at a public forum. Speaking to a TV channel on Thursday, the actor said he stood by what he said and refused to comment further.

However, the actor found support from various quarters, including the opposition parties. Congress leader and MP K Muraleedharan said Jayasurya raised relevant and pressing issues faced by the farmers in Kerala. "Jayasurya has no political affiliations, and the issues faced by the farmers should be addressed by the government immediately," the Congress leader told reporters.

After Jayasurya's speech went viral on social media, Agriculture Minister Prasad came out with a detailed explanation of the concessions and sops given by the state government to support the paddy farmers. "Unlike the actor, whose concern for the farmers is 'seasonal', the social workers and politicians are always working towards the welfare of farmers," he told a TV channel on Thursday.

Speaking during the campaign for LDF candidate Jaick C Thomas at Puthupally on Wednesday, Prasad said Jayasurya's statement was factually wrong. "Paddy farmers are paid Rs 28/kg. While the central government is required to pay Rs 20.50/kg, the state government adds another Rs 7.50/kg as it knows that the central government's payment is not sufficient. However, there is a delay in the payment by the central government. And many banks did not cooperate to provide the funds for distribution to the paddy farmers. Even then, we distributed Rs 7.50 among the farmers in this Onam season. We have also communicated with the bank consortium," said the minister.

Prasad further added that Kerala is the only state that pays the farmers. "The seeds are given free of charge; electricity is provided free of charge; and the farmers receive many other benefits," he added.

Jayasurya also said that the state does not have any quality-checking mechanisms and urged the government to set up a basic quality-checking system. "The vegetables that we consume contain huge amounts of pesticides. We lack an effective quality-checking system. Here, anything may be sold. We end up eating second or third-rate products as a result of this. The government-announced projects are something we are proud of. But first, we want a basic system for quality assurance," he added.

The actor also shared his experience visiting a rice mill in Palakkad and how the high-quality products were being exported to overseas countries.

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