The Assam government has planned to strengthen the agriculture sector by doubling farmers’ income by 2021
The Assam Government has planned big succour to farming community by taking several steps for agriculture and its allied sectors.
Briefing the media, agriculture minister Atul Bora elaborated the series of decisions that have been taken as also the steps taken to curb nepotism and misgovernance.
Bora said that one lakh shallow tubewells, 10,000 solar pumps and around 400 small rice mills would be distributed and set up in the state within a year. A meeting would be held in Guwahati on June 12 where top department officials and agriculture experts and scientists will brainstorm on the means and strategies to make the farm sector more vibrant in Assam, he added.
“There has been a bumper harvest of paddy and potato in the state this year and the government has fixed Rs 150 crore for price stabilization. This is to ensure that farmers do not have to resort to distress sale,” the minister explained. “The Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB) has already purchased over 17,000 quintals of potato from farmers. Potato farmers in some areas had to face loss and the government is working on estimating the exact quantum of loss.”
Agriculture plays a vital role in the economy of Assam contributing more than 30 per cent to the state domestic product. Successive government have assigned very high priority to agriculture. This was reflected through a quantum jump in rice production to 39 lakh tonnes in 1999-2000 from the level of 33.82 lakh tonnes and 32.54 lakh tonnes in 1997-98 and 1998-99. This was achieved through the creation of assured shallow tubewell (STW) irrigation with the assistance of World Bank (ARIASP) and NABARD (Special Kishan Yojana) scheme. Although regular flood, drought, heavy population pressure on land and infrastructural weakness are the impediments to growth, yet the farmers have started to increase production through technological innovations and appropriate government policies.
At the same time, agricultural development in the state is crippled by many constraints. Low availability of farm power has become one of the constraints to double or multiple cropping. This has been acutely felt after expansion of area under irrigation through a large-scale installation of shallow tube-wells. The North eastern states are not self-sufficient in the production of required seeds except for paddy and mustard.
The post-harvest handling of summer rice viz. threshing, drying and milling will continue to remain a problem in Assam till some innovative measures are introduced. In the horticulture sector, there is a huge post-harvest loss due to lack of technology, product information and inadequate processing infrastructure. Another major bottleneck is marketing. The problem of poor storage facilities is compounded by the lack of adequate cold storage units. Finally, floods take a heavy toll on the crop area every year and it is estimated that around 3 lakh hectares of land in Assam are subject to annual flood.
The minister claimed that all these issues were being examined and the administration streamlined to prevent leakages and misgovernance. He informed that prosecution sanction against a number of officials accused of various charges had been granted which was in addition to the eight officials under his department who have also been suspended for alleged involvement in illegal activities.
Bora also spoke about the special emphasis on popularising the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. A senior official of the department gave details about three new cold storage facilities in Assam which were being set up at Chaigaon, Kharupetia and Sutarkandi.
He informed that the state government has handed over 50 bigha of land at Silchar for setting up an Inter State Terminal Market, which will be the first one of its kind in the North Eastern region. A similar venture would also come up in Guwahati as also about 20 small markets all over the state.
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