THE FARMER

Hailing from a farmer’s family, it was only natural that agriculture be close to Dr. Reddy’s heart. He played a sterling role in the agricultural development of his home state. He was a great strategist who demonstrated a unique ability to impact the farming community positively all through his life. In 1953, he established the Hyderabad Farmer’s Forum and functioned as its president. The forum published ‘KISAN’ a monthly farm magazine in four languages - English, Telugu, Marathi and Kannada with a circulation of 10,000. The high standards set by the journal attracted acclaim from officers, academicians and farmers.

In his very first outing as minister, Dr. Reddy was entrusted with the portfolio of Food and Agriculture as per his own choice. During this period, food supply was precarious and the insight he bought into play and the pragmatic approach he adopted to solve problems set a record which every politician and administrator envies to this day. As Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Reddy led the Indian delegation to the conference of International Federation of Agricultural producers held in Rome in 1953. He also worked as deputy leader of the Indian delegation that went to the FAO conference held at Rome in 1955. He availed these visits to study the agricultural and industrial economies of 13 European countries including France, Germany, England and Switzerland.

He introduced several reforms for the benefit of the farmer community. At a time when the use of fertilisers was uncommon, Dr. Reddy, as Minister for Agriculture introduced a scheme under which bonafide farmers could obtain fertilizers on credit. In the process, farmers became fertilizer conscious, and as the use of fertilisers went up, food production rose phenomenally. Dr. Reddy fought for establishing separate Agricultural Universities to promote agricultural and veterinary sciences as distinct academic disciplines. As a result of his personal efforts, the Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University (present ANGRAU) came into existence in 1964.

As Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh during the period 1978-79, Dr. Reddy introduced a number of development schemes for the overall development of the state. An important scheme was the exemption of land revenue for small farmers with holding of 2.5 acres wet and 5 acres dry land and conferring right of land to about 75,000 people by distributing 1.33 lakh acres. When the impeccable drainage system built by Sir Arthur Cotton in the Godavari and Krishna Delta over a 100 years ago and which transformed the region into a vibrant agricultural economy started showing signs of decay and was beginning to threaten the very livelihood of farmers, Dr. Reddy swung into action and ordered a plan for immediate fortification and long-term relief measures. He also negotiated a Rs. 3000 crore assistance with World Bank officials in record time for various development programmes including the Cyclone Emergency Reconstruction project that would was to be a virtual boon for farmers. As a result of these exemplary initiatives, the people developed great affection and respect for Dr. Reddy.

All large institutions have small beginnings and those that nurse them in the early years are really the founding fathers. In this sense Dr. Reddy may truly be the founder of not only the Agriculture University, but the whole agricultural complex housing a dozen institutions working for the cause of Agriculture and N.I.R.D., All India coordinated projects of Rice, Sorghum, Millets etc., V.D.O.’s Training center, State Institute of Community Development and Panchayat Raj Cooperative Training College, and alike. These institutions at Rajendranagar have become among the largest reservoir of the Agriculture talent in the country with their continued activities focusing towards improving the farming system and wellbeing of farmers.