A progressive role model farmer from Andhra Pradesh’s Srikakulam district, who won many awards, had returned all the honours as a mark of protest against the new farm laws enacted in September.
Khandavu Prasada Rao, 75, returned his honours to the local revenue divisional officer (RDO), T.V.S.G. Kumar, in Palakonda, 470 km northeast of Vijayawada.
“He is a good man, progressive farmer and a hard worker. Even today he works in the fields,” Kumar told IANS.
He said that Rao was unhappy with the new farm laws which according to him are more beneficial to the corporates than the farmers.
The RDO said that Rao is known to be a farmer with a progressive and modern mindset who experiments with new techniques, avoiding chemicals and pesticides.
“I know him personally. He always comes to me and we discuss many things. He is a good man and a committed farmer. He tries to do everything in an organic manner and doesn’t like to use chemicals in the farms,” Kumar pointed out.
In about 40 acres of agricultural fields, Rao is known to grow black rice and sugar-free varieties as well.
He has returned all his medals, certificates and honours which he received over the years from the state government and other entities. Some of the honours include merit certificates from Andhra Pradesh agriculture minister, mementos from farmers’ day in 2012, recognition at Sankranti Puraskaralu in 2006, merit certificate from Professor NG Ranga Agriculture University, Mandala Vuthama Ryothu and several others.
Highlighting Rao’s dedication, Kumar said even today he works in the fields at this age. Though the old farmer returned his honours, the senior revenue department officer gave him the opportunity to take them back whenever he would want them.
The RDO said that Rao may get satisfied with the government in the future and then he can come and repossess his medals, certificates and honours.
Rao returned his awards after some members of the local Left parties also gave a representation opposing the new laws.
Meanwhile, Rao criticised the BJP for bringing the three new farm laws which he feels are not favourable to the farmers.
“The first farm law says that the government will not declare the minimum support price (MSP) with the option of selling agriculture produce anywhere in the country. If a minimum price is decided, then farmers can sell. How can anybody decide without an MSP,” Rao said.
The veteran farmer who started his agricultural journey when he was 22, said that just to take a harvested crop to the government procurement centre alone will cost some money.
He also castigated the government for allowing corporates to enter the farming sector as he fears that the farmers will lose the freedom to grow whichever crop they wanted.
“Corporates will have their own vested interests and farmers have to listen to them,” he pointed out, opposing the new laws which according to him can even create food shortage and insecurity in the country.
Unlike the massive protests being witnessed in some northern states, Andhra Pradesh has not seen such hectic demonstrations against the farm laws, though many have opposed them.