Andhra Pradesh to Export Farmers to East Africa
October 28, 2004

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh plans to send hundreds of farmers to East Africa to cultivate farmland in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, officials said on Thursday.

The state is holding talks with the Kenyan government to lease 50,000 acres of land and send about 1,000 farmers there to work, they said.

Hundreds of debt-ridden farmers in the state have committed suicide this year.

"This is a business opportunity for Andhra farmers, who are well-versed in tropical and arid area farming," the state's Agriculture Minister, N Raghuveera Reddy, told Reuters.

At least, 502 farmers have killed themselves since May, when YSR Reddy's Congress party government took power in the state.

About 500 farmers have already agreed to take up the offer and to leave a state so far better known for sending thousands of engineers to work in computer software firms in western countries, mostly the United States.

The Andhra government and Kenyan officials are working on an memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will flesh out details, said CC Reddy, an adviser to the state government who came up with the plan.

Talks were also being held with representatives of the governments of Tanzania and Uganda to send farmers to those countries as well, officials said.

Under the plan, state agriculture officials will accompany the farmers to help establish cooperatives and coordinate with the Kenyan government. The cooperatives will be run by the farmers themselves and will grow sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, groundnut, millet, chickpea, fruits and flowers.

"Farmers can send their earnings to families back home without any hindrance," Reddy said, adding that the state government would pay for their travel, and also for interpreters.

Under the relocation plan, the Andhra government will pay the East African countries to lease the land for cooperatives, which will employ the farmers and pay back the lease costs through earnings from farm output. The Kenyan envoy to India held talks with Andhra officials last week and the two sides were expected to sign an agreement soon, officials said.

Thousands of farmers, unable to pay rising debts as their crops failed, have also committed suicide in the neighbouring states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Situation has been grim in Rajasthan as well as the state police opened fire on a large group of farmers killing four people after they set fire to a police station on Wednesday, demanding water to irrigate their lands.

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




Home | About | How to Use this Site | Sitemap | Privacy Policy

India Resource Center (IRC) is a project of Global Resistance -- "Building Global Links for Justice"
URL: http://www.IndiaResource.org Email:IndiaResource (AT) igc.org