Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led UDF opposition on Tuesday alleged in the Kerala assembly that the ruling LDF has not followed through with its poll promises made to farmers for improving their financial conditions which has been adversely impacted by the natural disasters and pandemic in the previous years.
The UDF said that every time the plight of farmers is raised in the House, the state government, instead of giving details of the steps taken by it, always blames the lack of assistance from the central government.
UDF MLA Mons Joseph demanded that the assembly proceedings be stopped to discuss the problems being faced by farmers, especially those engaged in rubber plantations and coconut cultivation.
Speaker A N Shamseer denied the motion to adjourn the House to discuss the issue in view of the explanations given by state Agriculture Minister P Prasad and protesting against the same the opposition staged a walkout from the assembly.
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Prasad, refuted the contentions of the opposition and said that requisite steps, like providing over Rs 1,780 crore to rubber famers without any help from the Centre and setting up mobile collections units, have been taken to help the farmers.
Besides that, the minimum support price (MSP) of rubber was increased to Rs 170 from the Rs 150 given during the UDF rule, the minister said.
Apart from that, it has been decided to press into service 22 vehicles for collection of coconuts and more cold storages and refrigerator vans would also be brought in to ensure collected produce is not spoiled.
The minister said that everyone should come together and demand that the Centre intervene and help out the farmers.
Disagreeing with the claims of the ruling front, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state assembly V D Satheesan said that rubber farming or coconut cultivation was no longer profitable for farmers in the state which was known for its rubber and coconut production.
He said the MSP for rubber was insufficient and needs to be increased as some tyre manufacturers were planning to start rubber plantations in some northern states and for that they were going to receive huge subsidies from the Centre.
”Once rubber prices increase, which they would, you would not have to pay the subsidy. But if it is not paid now, the sector would close down and it would be tough to revive the same thereafter,” the LoP contended.
He also alleged that coconut collection by the state government was a failure as it was not taking place at the ground level and was only on paper.
Even the production of pepper, which the state was famous for, has fallen to a fifth of what it was in the past.
”The pepper found in supermarkets and stores is not the ones grown in Kerala,” he claimed.
Satheesan contended that there was not a single farmer in the state who has not received loan default notices from the bank or was able to survive based solely on the income from agriculture.
”They are going through one of the most financially dire situations presently,” he added.
Satheesan said that since such an important issue was not being discussed in the House, he and his party members are staging a walkout.
Other opposition members also staged a walkout for the same reason.