The YSR Congress party government is contemplating to declare the Amravati region as “Special Agricultural Zone” (SAZ) for a comprehensive development of agriculture to allay fears of agitating farmers of the area who are protesting the shifting of the administrative capital to Visakhapatnam.
The proposal is presently being discussed by the high-power committee of ministers and officials, which is working out the action plan for shifting of the administrative capital to Visakhapatnam. It would take a concrete shape at the next cabinet meeting, an official familiar with development said.
“We have discussed the measures to come to the rescue of farmers of Amaravati,. There is no question of doing any injustice to anybody,” state minister for information Perni Venkatramaiah, who is one of the members of the high-power committee, told reporters after the committee meeting on last Friday.
The farmers who had given 33,000 acres of land to the state government during the previous Telugu Desam Party regime, have been strongly resisting the proposed shifting of administrative capital to Visakhapatnam. They said they won’t be able to cultivate their lands again nor would they be able to sell the plots allotted to them due to crash in land value in the region.
According to the proposal being discussed in the government, the Amaravati capital region could be converted into a Special Agricultural Zone (SAZs) on the lines of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) created for industrial development.
Under this SAZ concept, the government itself would take up the responsibility of restoring the cultivability of lands in Amaravati, barring in the areas where roads and buildings have come up. “Out of 33,000 acres of land, at least 25,000 acres of land is still fit for restoration of agricultural activity. We shall take the farmers into confidence and implement the plan,” the official quoted above said.
Senior YSRC leader and AP Agricultural Mission vice-chairman M V S Nagi Reddy said the state government was preparing plans to develop Amaravati into a “green zone” and come to the rescue of the farmers of the region, refusing to elaborate further.
A draft note on the SAZ concept discussed at the meeting of the high-power committee revealed that Amaravati can be transformed into an SAZ having potential for economic and sustainable growth. “Naturally and historically, Amaravati location being resourceful for agriculture, this would be a best location for intensive agriculture,” it said.
The note said the vast agriculture land can be well built in to an integrated setup having different models of agriculture like vertical farming. hydroponics, organic agriculture, commercial crops, horticulture crops, medicinal aromatic plants, animal husbandry etc. An end-to-end supply chain systems can be in built for better traceability and trackability.
It also suggested that commodity-based group farming or co-operatives through an institutional approach can be introduced. “Sentiments of local farmers and farm labour can be protected as their rights of farming are ensured. Farmers can be made shareholders in SAZ to gain economic equity,” the note said.
It further said Amaravati can be partially or fully an export zone for agriculture, certified organic zone due to larger area. It can be a best pre-commercial testing location for many corporate partners to test their hybrids. “We can make many corporates as partners to introduce their technologies and innovations,” it suggested.
Private Public Partnership models can be well evaluated under controlled conditions in the SAZ which can create multiple employment opportunities for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manpower.
“Ancillary farm-based industries can slowly evolve and help to expand business opportunities,” the note suggested.