Andhra Pradesh Government will adopt a mission mode approach to bring about a turnaround in agriculture that has been ailing because of "faulty" policies and "gross neglect" of the sector in the last ten years of the previous Congress Government.
"Our main goal is to make agriculture climate resilient, sustainable, productive and profitable. We aim to transform agriculture from a way of life into an enterprise by encouraging scientific farming through innovative thinking
"We will adopt a mission mode for this by involving farmers and modernising the sector," Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said here tonight.
Releasing a "white paper", the fourth in the series, on agriculture and allied sectors, he said farm segment's contribution to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) was just about 20% though 70% of AP's population was dependent on it.
"We have to correct this and improve agriculture's contribution to GSDP. We have identified agriculture as one of the seven missions to propel growth and use it as a tool to eliminate poverty.
"Drought-proofing the state, farm mechanisation, water conservation and management, improved marketing, strengthening of research and extension activities will be our focus areas," the Chief Minister added.
He said Prakasam, Chittoor, Anantapuram and Kadapa districts would be developed into seed hubs. "The previous Congress Government grossly neglected the farmers and pushed them into distress."
"As many as 1,943 farmers committed suicide (as per revenue records) between May 2004 and 2014 as against 310 during the TDP rule between 1995-2004. The number of suicides in the 2004-14 period is much larger if you go by the National Crime Records Bureau figures," Naidu pointed out.
He cited cloud seeding exercise undertaken by the YS Rajasekhara Reddy Government as an example of how the farmers were betrayed by "faulty" policies. "As much as Rs 127 crore was spent in the name of cloud seeding to bring rains but nothing happened. The Congress Government also distributed Rs 30 crore per annum to the party workers in the name of exemplary farmers. This has completely destroyed the agriculture extension activity and left farmers in misery," Naidu noted.
Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh also left its impact on the farming sector as the main agricultural university and other research institutes went to the new state of Telangana, the Chief Minister maintained.
"It will take considerable time and expenditure to develop such facilities in AP."
The waiver of crop loans, up to Rs 1.5 lakh per family, amounting to a whopping Rs 35,000 crore, would pull the distressed farmers out of the red, Naidu stated.
"Besides agriculture, we will simultaneously focus on fisheries, dairying, sheep rearing, poultry and horticulture sectors which, too, will contribute to the revenues. We will invite international chains to set up facilities in specific areas to help in value-addition."
Agriculture Minister P Pulla Rao was also present on the occasion.