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Parivartan still eludes farmers

KOLKATA, 3 NOV: The slew of sops rolled out by the government may have earned it a name of being farmer-friendly, but many farmers feel that the new government is no better than its predecessor.
The price of fertilisers have doubled in the past six months, heavy losses in jute and rice harvest, an impending fear of BT crops and attack of insects triggered due to climate change have made farmers to say that 2011 was the worse year for the farmers.
In an agricultural expo organised in Milan Mela ground today, 3,000 farmers from most of the districts of the state gathered to listen to what Mr Sisir Adhikari, Union minister of state for rural development, Mr Abu Hena, state minister for food processing, and Mr Arup Roy, state minister for agricultural marketing, had to say about the problems ailing the farmers in the state.
While Mr Adhikari could not attend the meeting, Mr Hena and Mr Roy spoke mostly in English what the farmers could not comprehend. So, they sat in groups outside the function hall and brooded about solutions of their problems for which they had come from so far.
Mr Roy’s assurance of solving the “fertiliser problem” soon invited sneers from the farmers thronging outside the doors who said that the prices have doubled in the past six months. “It is Rs 900-Rs 1000 per 50 kg. The government promised of subsidy on fertiliser but we do not see any favourable results,” said a farmer from Burdwan, Mr Gobinda Mondal.
The chief minister, Miss Mamata Banerjee, had said that the government would pay Rs 100 extra for every quintal of jute procured from farmers by the Jute Corporation of India (JCI).
“It takes Rs 3,000 to cultivate one quintal of jute and it is currently being sold for Rs 1,700. Rs 100 is too little an amount to support the farmers,” said Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh, a farmer from Hooghly.
The farmers said the government is stressing on weeding out middlemen but this is hardly going to solve any problem.
“Rice mills refused to take our harvest this year. They said that they still have the rice harvest of last year stocked in their godowns. If the government does not promote export, there would be no takers for our rice,” said a farmer from Pachla in Howrah, Mr Paritosh Khara.
Increasing production is not the only solution, as there has to be marketability. “Also, middlemen take our rice from our doorstep to mills. They also explore other avenues. If there are no middlemen, the farmers would have to spend on transport,” he added.
Mr Sapan Marik of the same village said that while small farmers are selling their land to feed themselves, others have are unable to repay loans. “We thought that with the new government, out conditions would improve. But it has become even worse,” he added.

‘Rise in horti production expected’
KOLKATA, 3 NOV: The state minister for food processing, Mr Abu Hena, today said that the department is aiming for a 4 per cent rise in production of horticultural products in the next fiscal. He was speaking at the inauguration of the third Agro Protech, organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce at the Milan Mela ground. The expo will run till 5 November. “Food products worth Rs 40,000 crore is wasted every year due to lack of storage capacity and in the next fiscal we are aiming a three-fold increase in processed food production,” he said. Mr Arup Roy, minister for agricultural marketing, said that poor inter-connectivity of farms and markets are some of the problems the state is ailing with. In the next five-year plan, emphasis is being given to modernise farm practices. Formation of more co-operatives is necessary for the success of marketing plan, he added. Mr Charan Das Mahant, Union minister of state for agriculture and food processing industries, inaugurated the Agro Protech and released a report ~ roadmap towards broad-based, inclusive and sustainable second green revolution ~ on Indian agricultural scenario. “The time is ripe for a second green revolution,” he said.

Soma Basu

Soma Basu

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