After weeks of protests where Telangana and Andhra chilli farmers resorted to burning their crops in massive piles, the Centre has finally decided to intervene.
Following multiple appeals from leaders of both states as farmers raged against the falling prices of chillies, the Centre stated that it would buythe chillies at Rs 5,000 per quintal until May 31, under its Market Intervention Scheme (MIS).
Announcing the decision, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu said that he had discussed the issue with Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and farmers would get an additional Rs 1,250 per quintal for overhead expenses, such as packing the material and transporting it.
Naidu also urged chilli farmers not to resort to the distress sale of their crops.
According to reports, a maximum quantity of 88,300 metric tons of chillies in Andhra Pradesh and 33,700 metric tons in Telangana can be procured under the scheme by state agencies.
Farmers across the two Telugu states have staged several protests in recent weeks. In April, Andhra farmers burned mounds of chillies and blocked the Chennai-Kolkata Highway.
Just last week, the Khammam Market Yard Office in Telangana witnessed violent protests by chilli growers. The farmers were upset by the low prices of chillies on the market â€” which had reportedly dropped to Rs 3,000 per quintal â€” and went on a rampage, breaking chairs, tables, doors, computers and windows.
They also dragged the broken furniture to the entrance of the office, and set it all on fire, along with large sacks of their crops.
On Wednesday, actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan wrote to the Andhra government, demanding that chillies be bought at Rs 11,000 per quintal from the farmers.
â€śDue to the negligence of the government towards farmers, they are being forced onto the roads and the incidents of protests by chilli farmers in the two states stand as an example to the situation. It is not good for the country if the farmers are left to cry,â€ť he said in a media statement.
However, even after the latest move by the Centre, not everyone is satisfied.
The farmers who vandalised the market yard in Khammam had been demanding Rs 10,000 per quintal to break even.
Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, whose TDP party is also part of the NDA coalition, said that the MSP was not enough.
"Rs 5,000 for the farmers is not enough. We are saying that we should give at least Rs 8,000. The state government is already offering a bonus of Rs 1,500 per quintal, besides what the Centre has announced. We have asked the Centre bear half the cost of the bonus. We will work it out," he told the media.
Others blamed the state governments for the problem at hand.
Union Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya praised the Centre's decision in a press conference, but lashed out at Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
â€śIf the (state) government had immediately allotted Rs 200 crore as intervention price, this problem would not have arisen. Itâ€™s a fact that proper review of the farming operations was not done. Our party does not play politics with farmersâ€™ issues,â€ť he was quoted saying.