Hyderabad: Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the consequential lockdown, the Andhra Pradesh government has set a record by procuring unprecedented quantities of agricultural produce to help the farmers of the state cope with the economic turmoil.

During a brainstorming session, Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy, on 26 May, announced that the state had procured 5.6 lakh metric tonnes of agricultural produce in the last eight months by spending Rs. 2,200 crore. Of this, Rs. 1,100 crore was spent on procurement during the COVID-affected period alone, he said. The session was attended by all stakeholders, including farmers and experts.

The state government has taken multiple steps to reduce the expenditure of the farmers. According to the government, so far around 46.89 lakh people have benefited from its Rythu Bharosa scheme which aims to provide timely assistance to farmers.

“Rs. 7,500 was given to farmers in May to help them procure seeds and fertilisers, while Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 2,000 will be given to them in October and January to meet the Kharif harvesting and Rabi expenditure, respectively. Therefore, each farmer will receive Rs. 13,500 each year from the government. A total of Rs. 10,209 crore was spent by the government over the same in the last one year,” a government statement said.

Apart from providing financial assistance, the government will also provide free crop insurance for farmers across the state. “After e-cropping, the farmers will only have to pay a nominal amount of Re. 1 for the insurance. The remaining premium will be paid by the government. The state has paid premiums worth Rs. 1,270 crore since it came to power," Jagan said.

Under the 'YSR Sunna Vaddi scheme', the state government has also decided to bear the cost of the interest levied on crop loans taken by the farmers, effectively making them zero per cent interest loans. The government is due to pay Rs. 2,000 crore as interest to the lending authorities in July.

“Providing nine hours of free electricity and spending Rs. 1,700 crore to set up the necessary infrastructure for the same; setting up the district and mandal-level agricultural advisory boards which can advise the farmers on the do's and don'ts after analysing national and international markets; and setting up Rythu Bharosa Kendras, which will soon be a one-stop solution of sorts for all farmer-related issues, which will be inaugurated on 30 May are a few other steps taken by the government to facilitate an ideal environment for farmers to practice agriculture,” the government statement read.

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