Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu has promised to give the same push to agiculture that he had given the IT sector in his earlier stint as Andhra Pradesh chief minister.
Our IT drive has placed Andhra Pradesh on the world map. Now,we will take the agriculture sector too to the same heights if voted to power, Naidu promised while releasing the TDPs draft agriculture concept paper here on Sunday.
The concept paper charts out a massive plan of action to revitalise the agriculture sector. That 5,800 farmers committed suicide in the last five years in Andhra Pradesh speaks about the faulty agriculture policies pursued by both the state and Central governments, he said.
Beginning with the establishment of an Andhra Pradesh State Agricultural Development Authority that will draft policies for the betterment of farmers and the agriculture sector,the TDP has promised to create a Rs 1,000-crore stabilisation fund to ensure farmers get remunerative prices for their produce.
Naidu said a Rs 500 crore farmers encouragement fund would be started to support them in times of distress while a state-level committee on the lines of the Committee on Agricultural Costs and Production is in the works.
Special emphasis would be laid on developing agri-based industries in rural areas while modern technology would be effectively used to improve productivity,he said. We will also give 75 per cent subsidy for purchase of new implements, the TDP chief said.
Naidu also promised interest-free loan up to Rs 25,000 to small and marginal farmers while other farmers would get loan at 3 per cent interest. The free power supply to agriculture sector would continue with the duration increased to 12 hours a day. Unlike now,we will ensure quality power supply during daytime, he assured.
The TDP also plans to integrate the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) with agricultural activities so that farm workers can avail of the benefits of the scheme.
The NREGP has created a scarcity of farm workers. Though there are provisions in the Act for creation of agriculture-related employment,they have not been enforced , Naidu pointed out.
Replying to a question,the TDP chief said farmers would be made partners in the development of Special Economic Zones and allowed to share profits. If voted to power,the TDP will also cancel the proposed Coastal Corridor project that,it says,is detrimental to the interests of hundreds of farmers.