The Telangana government decided to strengthen the Agriculture Department by creating two divisions, one to take care of irrigation, power, fertiliser and seeds, and the second to focus on marketing.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who held a review meeting on agriculture, directed that an Indian Administrative Officer (IAS) officer should head each division.
He said that Telangana is fast emerging as an agriculture-based state and in tune with this, the Agriculture Department should strengthen itself.
The marketing division will study which crops have demand in the country, in the world and which crops would get profits to farmers. He said it should prepare strategies in coordination with Marketing and Civil Supplies Departments to get better prices for farmers.
Stating that 60 per cent of population in Telangana is dependent on agriculture, he said the government has no other subject on top of its agenda other than agriculture.
“Revolutionary changes were brought in the farm sector in the state with construction of major irrigation projects, revival of tanks through Mission Kakatiya, 24-hour uninterrupted free power supply to agriculture, Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bhima, creation of clusters, supply of quality seeds, fertilisers and pesticides on time.”
KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, claimed that the entire map of agriculture changed after formation of the Telangana state when compared to the situation in the united Andhra Pradesh.
Telangana became the highest paddy producing state in the country, while a lot of progress was made in other crops too. Farmers are getting good price for their agriculture produce due to the Regulatory Farming Policy, he noted.
KCR claimed that due to construction of Kaleshwaram project on Godavari River and other projects, 24 districts have become fertile.
Stressing the need to increase the extent of cultivation of other crops along with paddy and cotton, he said that redgram cultivation in the state should be extended to 20 to 25 Lakh acres, oil palm should be cultivated in 12 lakh acres, and red chilli, turmeric, pulses and vegetables in 15 lakh acres.
He announced that corn would be purchased at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 1,850 per quintal through the purchasing centres created for paddy in the villages.
The Chief Minister was upset that though the government had asked the farmers not to cultivate maize in the rainy season as the corn would not be able to get the MSP, yet some farmers did so.
Holding that as some farmers cultivated maize against the government’s advice, the government had no responsibility to buy corn, he said that with the sole intention that farmers should not be put to loss, the government has decided to bear the loss and purchase the corn from farmers at the MSP.
“During last summer, the government, through Markfed, purchased nine lakh tonnes of corn and spent Rs 1,668 crore. Since the corn purchased did not get any price in the open market, it was auctioned. The open auction of corn got only Rs 823 crore. As a result, Markfed incurred a Rs 845 crore loss.
“Markfed purchased the corn at Rs 1,760 per quintal. With procurement and transportation costs, the cost was Rs 2,000 per quintal. But in the auction, Markfed got only Rs 1,150 per quintal. It incurred a loss of Rs 850 per quintal. Since there is no market for the corn all over the country, it has to be sold at a lower price,” he explained.
KCR said it was due to the wrong policy of the BJP government at the Centre, the local corn lost its price in the market.
The Centre has reduced the import duty on corn from 50 per cent to 15 percent, and this had directly led to steep fall in the price of corn, he said.
“Leaders of the party, which was responsible for the fall in corn price, are playing cheap politics here. Farmers should be aware of this. They should not listen to those creating problems for the political gains,” he said.