NREGP "bane" for farmers
Hyderabad, July 6 (UNI) The National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (NREGP), launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Andhra Pradesh, to provide a fair deal to agricultural labourers, has turned out be 'disastrous' for the farming community in the State, which has a high incidence of suicide among peasants.
Deposing before the National Commmission on Farmers here today, a woman farmer from Mahabubnagar lamented that ''the NREGP, which has been projected as a boon for farm hands, is a bane for agriculturists who are finding very difficult to get workers.'' ''They are demanding more than double the amount for various farm operations, including weeding and planting of nurseries,'' she told Commission Member R B Singh, who headed the state-level consultative meeting here to prepare a comprehensive report to resolve the agrarian crisis and end the trend of suicide witnessed in different parts of the country, including Vidarbha. The Goverment should provide maximum subsidies to promote farm mechanisation, she added.
''Earlier, they used to come for farming operations for wages of Rs 25 per day, but now the farm workers demand a minimum of Rs 50 as they are getting between Rs 80 and Rs 100 for working under the NREGP,'' Ms Padma complained.
''We feel like quitting farming and join their ranks since we do not have any guarantee of getting a decent return from agriculture what with uncertain market conditions,'' she said.
Another woman farmer from West Godavari district told the Commmission that it would be appropriate for the Union and State Government to implement the NREGP during the off-season. ''Since we did not harvest the ripe rabi paddy crop on time due to labour shortage, unseasonal rains have snatched away the ready-to-harvest crop,'' K Venkatalaxmi lamented.
Yet another women farmer from Nalgonda district pleaded with the Commission to recommend for providing loans at three per cent interest to farmers as being given to Women Self-Help groups. Since only big farmers could afford farm mechanisation, the Government should stop the NREGP scheme during the Rabi and Khariff seasons, Ms K Avanija opined.
UNI SM ROY RL ND1924