Tenant Farmers’ Padayatra in Andhra Pradesh

B Tulasidas

ANDHRA Pradesh Koulu Rytula Sangham (Tenant farmers’ organisation) conducted a padayatra demanding the scrupulous implementation of AP Land Licensed Cultivators’ Act 2011, to provide institutional finance and to create a separate ministry for the welfare of tenant farmers from October 10-31. The march started at Gollapalem village of East Godavari district and culminated at Guntur covering 540 kms in East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts, where the tenant farming is predominant in the state. A 12-member team under the leadership of P Jamalaiah, state secretary of the organisation undertook this yatra and met the tenant farmers and heard their vows.

Tenant farming is highly prevalent in the irrigated areas of AP, particularly in Krishna, Godavari and Penna delta areas. It is estimated that there are about 30 lakh tenant farmers through-out the state. High rents, non-availability of institutional finance, insecurity of tenure etc., hamper the interests of tenant farmers in addition to the remunerative prices and other market issues. The Land Licensed Cultivators’ Act assures the tenant farmers of loan eligibility cards, recording the cultivation in the name of tenant so that the ex-gratia is paid to them when natural calamities occur etc. But that Act has not been implemented by the state government. Flagging off the march, V Srinivasa Rao, state vice president of the organisation lamented the injustice caused to the tenant farmers and expressed hope that the march would help in uniting the cultivators facing the vows. He appealed the tenant farmers to fight for the just demands of loans from banks, recording the cultivation etc. The march was well received by the tenant farmers, agricultural workers and poor peasants in about 200 villages en-route.

Tenant farmers in a big number went in a rally and conducted dharna in front of the Commissionarate of Agriculture at Guntur in culmination of the march on October 31. Addressing the gathering, Vijoo Krishnan, joint secretary of AIKS questioned the state government as to why it has not been implementing its own Licensed Land Cultivators’ Act and appealed the tenant farmers to continue the struggle till the demands are achieved. He extended full support and solidarity from the AIKS. Nagaboyina Ranga Rao, state president of the organisation explained about the menace of rats in the paddy fields and demanded the government to take steps to eradicate them. Later a delegation met the commissioner for agriculture and submitted a memorandum on the problems of tenant farmers. The commissioner assured the gathered people to solve the woes of tenant farmers in consultation with the government. Kisan and agriculture workers’ leaders V Srinivasa Rao,         V Krishnaiah, D Subbarao, V Venkateswarlu, Y Kesavarao, P Peddireddy and others participated and extended their solidarity. The 12-member team of the padayatra was felicitated in this connection.

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