New Andhra Pradesh Cultivators Act Unlikely to Solve Tenant Farmers' Problems -G Ram Mohan
Unless the state government has a system to ensure that landowners sign tenancy agreements, the new Act may not bring in any noteworthy changes.
On July 25, soon after coming to power with an absolute majority, the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party-led state government passed the Andhra Pradesh Crop Cultivators Rights Act, 2019.
The promises made to farmers by the YSRCP in the run up to the polls had elicited great hope and enthusiasm, especially against the backdrop of rampant farmer suicides in the state.
The new Act promises several measures that will protect tenant farmers, and is being hailed as revolutionary. “The Bill provides confidence among landowners about their title over the lands and at the same time has provisions for the tenant farmers to get bank loans, input and other subsidies, and the Crop Cultivator Rights Card will not affect the title of the landowner,” a press note from the chief minister’s office stated.
Agriculture activists, however, suspect the new Act may actually reverse the positive aspects of the AP Tenancy Act, 1956 and the AP Land Licensed Cultivators Act, 2011. These Acts now stand cancelled. They also said that farmers were not consulted at all before the state government passed the new Act.
During the previous Telugu Desam Party government, most farmers felt let down. Although it had promised that farmers’ loans worth Rs 87,000 crore would be waived off, it hardly wrote off debts worth Rs 27,000 crore. This was considered one of the primary reasons why the YSRCP could pull off a remarkable victory.
Around 1,513 farmers in the state ended their lives between 2014 and 2018, as per the District Crime Records Bureau. A majority of them were tenant farmers. Only 391 families received compensation during the last government.
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