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Andhra Pradesh govt announces financial aid for farmers ahead of key polls

Andhra Pradesh govt announces financial aid for farmers ahead of key polls
The 'Annadaata Sukhibhava' scheme under which the state government will give Rs 4,000 per annum for farmers in addition to Rs 6,000 announced by the Centre.

Ahead of the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, the Andhra Pradesh government Wednesday announced sops for farmers by integrating a state programme with the Centre's, thereby enabling each ryot to get Rs 10,000 annually in two instalments. The state cabinet, chaired by chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, Wednesday approved the 'Annadaata Sukhibhava' scheme under which the state government will give Rs 4,000 per annum for farmers in addition to Rs 6,000 announced by the Centre in its interim budget on February 1.

Also, the state government decided not to have any cap on the scheme and make it open for all, including who have large landholdings than the five acres stipulated by the Centre. Guidelines on the extension of scheme benefits to tenant farmers were being worked out, Agriculture Minister Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

In an election eve vote-on-account budget for 2019-20, the Chandrababu Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh on February 5 announced an economic support scheme for farmers and doubled the unemployment pension to Rs 2,000. Though the Kharif crop season begins only in June, the state government decided to distribute cheques for Rs 5,000 each to farmers by February end as the general elections are just three months away.

"We will extend this benefit also to tenant farmers who have cultivators certificate or a loan eligibility card. The government will give Rs 5000 each to farmers for Kharif and Rabi crops," Reddy told reporters Wednesday.

What the Centre sought to give (Rs 6,000 per annum) was meagre, the minister said, adding it would benefit only 54 lakh farmers in Andhra Pradesh. "But our scheme will cover another 10-15 lakh farmers who have more than five acres of land," Reddy added.

The state government earmarked Rs 5,000 crore for Annadata Sukhibhava scheme in the 2019-20 Budget but will now spend only Rs 3,450 crore (Rs 2,370 crore state share and Rs 1080 crore from the Centre). Meanwhile, the state Cabinet also decided to distribute free smartphones to all members of women self-help groups.

There are over 95 lakh SHG members in the state. The state government recently announced a scheme for women self-help groups under the Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) programme. Under the scheme, Rs 10,000 and a smartphone will be given to each of the women who are part of these SHGs.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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