For over a month, lakhs of farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been camped on Delhi’s borders in one of the largest agrarian protests in India’s history, while talks with the government on withdrawing three farm laws that deregulate the sector persist. At the other end of the country, over the past six years, the agrarian system in Telangana has seen major systemic shifts, after the formation of the state under chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao.
A major change KCR introduced was a direct income subsidy for farmers, called Rythu Bandhu. Alongside, his government greatly increased water availability for farming through the building of several large dams. The government also directed farmers to grow fine rice varieties and other water and fertiliser intensive crops. Contrary to KCR’s projections, this reduced the income of farmers as the new glut in fine rice varieties struggle to find a viable and remunerative market.
GV Ramanjaneyulu is an agricultural scientist who has researched and written extensively on public-policy issues impacting food systems and farmers livelihoods. Tushar Dhara, a reporting fellow with The Caravan, spoke to Ramanjaneyulu, the executive director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture—an independent agriculture research organisation based in Hyderabad—about the results of KCR’s agricultural policy. They discussed how the three farm laws would impact farmers in Telangana who are going through a marketing crisis, and the distinct lack of farmers’ protests in the state.