Manjula, a 35-year-old cotton farmer from Vikarabad near Hyderabad, refuses to quit farming after her husband died by suicide a few years ago, unable to tackle the debt crisis. “Despite his suicide, I decided to continue farming on the land that we have taken on rent but the lean streakcontinues as I face losses every season,” she says.

Sharing her experiences at a meeting here on Friday after submitting a memorandum at “Prajavani”, a grievance redressal window set up by the Revanth Reddy government, she appealed to be included in the Rythu Bharosa scheme. The scheme promises to pay ₹15,000 each for every acre that a farmer owns.

Chaitanya, a 35-year-old farmer from Yadadri-Bhuvanagiri district in Telangana, and over 50 other tenant farmers too went to Prajavani to submit their memoranda to Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy.

Reminding poll promise

They wanted to remind the Congress Government about the promise made by the party in the election campaign. To score a point over the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), which launched the scheme, the Congress announced that if voted to power it would increase the payout to ₹15,000 from ₹10,000 paid by the KCR Government. 

It also promised to bring 22 lakh tenant farmers under the purview of the scheme, kindling hopes in this segment of farmers that were kept out of the scheme during the KCR regime. It is estimated that the scheme would cost ₹20,000 crore to the exchequer. It, however, is planning to remove the lands that are not being put to use.

With the government keeping silent even after six months of assuming the charge, the tenant farmers are agitated and have decided to send an appeal to the government.

What they want

“Besides giving us the Rythu Bharosa assistance, we want the Government to issue Loan Eligibility Cards and coverage under crop insurance and life insurance schemes,” Chaitanya told a gathering later.

The Congress Government introduced an Act in 2011 that allows tenant farmers to get Loan Eligibility Cards to dispel fears, if any, among the owners of the land over the ownership of their land. The cards also help them access loans from banks.

It, however, didn’t take off after the State’s bifurcation and the KCR Government’s decision not to reckon tenant farmers for any government schemes. “We pay rent in the range of ₹15,000 to ₹25,000 as rent depending on the availability of water. This makes it unviable for us. We end up losing every season,” Ramesh, a farmer from Mancheriyal said.

Kiran Kumar Vissa of Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV), an umbrella organisation of various farmers’ associations and non-governmental organisations, said the tenant farmers were in dire straits as they had no access to formal credit. “They neither get Rythu Bharosa nor the crop insurance and life insurance,” he said.

Ravi Kanneganti said about 22 lakh farmers awaited the implementation of the promises made by the Congress Party. “Actually, the number could be much more as more and more land owners are giving the land on rent,” he said.

The KCR Government had not distinguished between the practising farmers and land owners. It excluded tenant farmers from the scheme. Meanwhile, the government is working on modalities to select the beneficiaries.