Cattle are shouldering farm work once again as soaring fuel prices drive tractors away
The average farmer had dumped the famous Ongole bull in favour of tractors for farm operations thanks to the encouragement given to farm mechanisation by successive governments.
However, things seem to be changing again, as the world famous indigenous cattle breed, which flourishes in the tracts between the rivers Gundalakamma and Musi, now finds favour with farmers for operations like land preparation, sowing and inter-culturing, in the wake of the surge in the price of diesel of late.
“Going by the way the diesel price is going up frequently, we have little choice but to increasingly use the Ongole breed of cattle for farm operations like in the past. But a total switchover to old ways of cultivation may not be practical,” observes a farmer Ch. Ranga Rao. Maintaining the cattle all through the year when they are required only for three to four months is burdensome, he says.
“For cultivation of one acre of land we require about 30 litres of diesel. The fuel input alone in cultivation has gone up by 30% in just a year making farming unremunerative,” explains another farmer M. Srinivasa Rao.
“We are unsure of the returns, given the fluctuating market prices for farm produce. Though the Union government announces minimum support price (MSP), it has stopped market intervention of late, making farming no longer economically viable,” laments a farmer C. Venkateswarlu. He underscores the need for statutory backing to MSP.
The Union and State governments should make a conscious effort to cut various taxes to make diesel available to farmers at about ₹50 per litre as the nation’s food security is at stake, he adds.
Governments found increasing taxes on fuel as an easy option to mobilise revenue without taking hard decisions to arrest fiscal slippages, feels Confederation of Andhra Pradesh Consumer Organisations president M. Nageswara Rao.
There could be no justification for 250% taxes on fuel when it was between 20% and 65% in countries like the U.S.A., Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and Japan, remarks Poura Samajam president G. Narasimha Rao.
It was high time petrol and diesel are brought under the GST regime, opines Forum for Good Governance president M.Seshaiah.