Bandaru blames govt. for chilli farmers’ woes

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Demands government to open procurement centres at all market yards

Union Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya on Wednesday demanded that the State government open procurement centres at all market yards and elsewhere where the chilli produce was arriving and publicise the same to help the farmers in distress.

The government should make use of the Centre’s announcement of a market intervention price of ₹5,000 plus ₹1,200 per quintal with both the governments sharing the cost in 50:50 ratio as the scheme would be on till May 31. Farmers’ associations and cooperative bodies apart from Markfed should be used for procurement preventing middlemen from entering the scene.

While thanking the Centre for its prompt response, he squarely blamed the State government for not taking steps to prevent the current scenario and wondered why the agriculture and marketing departments failed to anticipate the bumper crop arrivals or take up alternative measures to ensure that the farmers get remunerative price to their produce.

At a press conference at the party office, he reminded that the Chief Minister, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, himself propagated the slogan ‘Cotton panta vaddu – Mirchi muddu’ (No to cotton, kiss the chilli) among farmers urging them to grow chilli instead of cotton and when the farmers responded, the government was caught napping.

“If the government had immediately allotted ₹200 crore as intervention price, this problem would not have arisen. It’s a fact that proper review of the farming operations was not done,” he said. Mr. Dattatreya questioned the State Ministers’ charge of the Centre “not doing anything” and said if the government had approached Delhi seeking help, it would have been done as commercial crops was a State subject. “Our party does not play politics with farmers’ issues,” he said.

Stating that the condition of farmers in the State was “pitiable”, Mr. Dattatreya asked why the government failed to take any action against officials or even middlemen responsible for the current crisis when they should have been continuously monitoring the agriculture operations.

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