New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (CPI) on Monday, December 19, claimed that 1,673 farmers had died by suicide since the YSR Congress Party government came to power in May 2019, the Hindu reported.
The party also claimed that farmers in all the 26 districts in the state had lost a sizeable amount of crop due to excess rains and fake seeds, the newspaper reported.
As part of a state-wide agitation plan, the party launched the ‘Chalo Collectorate’ programme in Anantapur, in which leaders carried damaged cotton, groundnut, sugarcane, pomegranate, paddy, and turmeric plants to the collector’s office.
They demanded that the state government help the farmers who had lost their crops because of fake seeds, untimely rains and lack of a decent minimum support price, the newspaper reported.
During the agitation, CPI state secretary K. Ramakrishna, party leaders D. Jagadeesh and C. Jaffer, and others were arrested when they tried to barge into the district collector’s office.
The party leaders and workers staged a dharna in front of the collectorate’s main gate. However, the police dispersed them and took the arrested leaders to the police station.
The arrested leaders were released on personal bonds later in the day, the report said.
Ramakrishna told the daily that the party will hold similar protests at Kurnool on Tuesday, December 20, and at Nandyal on Wednesday, December 21.
He added that instead of going to the affected farmers’ houses to understand their problems, the government was holding ‘Gadapa Gadapaku Mana Prabhutvam’ as a ritual with no outcome. (The Gadapa Gadapaku Mana Prabhutvam is a door-to-door mass contact programme to inform the public that it is the ruling party that is providing benefits.)
According to the latest NCRB report, at least 1,065 people working in the farm sector ended their lives in Andhra Pradesh in 2021 compared to 889 in 2020 – an increase of 19%.
Andhra Pradesh stood at third place in farmer suicides in 2021, after Karnataka (2169) and Maharashtra (4,064). The data, however, didn’t mention why the people in the farm sector took their own lives.
Interestingly, chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had on June 14 said the state had no dues in regard to farmer suicides. However, a field study found that many farmers who own land and have the relevant papers didn’t receive any compensation, The Wire had reported. Some of them had also leased land.
Separately, according to the 77th round survey of the National Sample Survey Office, 2019, the farmers of Andhra Pradesh have the highest average debt – of Rs 2.45 lakh – among 28 states.
A thriving fake seeds racket has also become a serious problem in the state.
Several news outlets have reported cases of fake seeds being sold to farmers, in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, due to lack of monitoring by the state governments.