Tripura CM, for a change, hits headlines for the benefits of farmers

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Thomas Lim
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has always been hitting the headlines for his controversial comments, but for once his action deserves commendation as his government has managed to persuade the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in procuring rice at a minimum support price from Tripura farmers on December 15, 2018.
The scheme is also working towards achieving Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi’s plan to double the farmers’ income by 2022. For the first time, the FCI started procuring rice at the minimum support price. Deb also said the state government would soon start providing pulses and other essential items through the Public Distribution System (PDS).
Also, according to the official of Tripura’s Food and Civil Supplies Department, the FCI, maintaining the stipulated standard of the Central government, has targeted to procure 10,000 MT of rice.  Tripura’s Agriculture Minister Pranjit Singh Roy informed that the state produced 8.58 lakh MT of rice with the average rice yield in the north-eastern state being 2,951 kg per hectare.

Strangely, besides the state of Sikkim, and now Arunachal Pradesh, other North Eastern state governments have never considered the importance of marketing their respective products not only to boost the economy of the state, but also support the farming community of their state.
In Meghalaya, the farming community is the most neglected lot. The hills state still needs to import every essential commodity including food crops and vegetables. The rural produces fail to reach the market due to absence of proper connectivity while year after year the funds are spent on repair and re-blacktopping of urban roads.
There is no Government pricing on crops while, at the same time, every government in power has failed to ensure that the state produces reach the market as the production fails to meet the demand of domestic consumption.
The farmers and their issues have failed to figure on the radar of the ‘all powerful’ and influential pressure groups and civil societies of the State.
The high migration of rural youth to urban cities in search of better employment has kept agricultural fields neglected. It is time for the state government to focus on rural development and stop all the cosmetic blacktopping of roads to benefit the contractors and utilize the government fund.
The presence of ICAR in the state is yet to be utilized to the fullest both by the state government and the farmers. It is time to allow the lifeline of the nation to have its natural growth by carefully nurturing the farmers and not use them just as political scapegoats or launch pads for politicians.
Three districts in Assam, Tripura and Mizoram were awarded for the execution of the central government’s flagship schemes in agriculture and the power sector. Each award-winning district was given a trophy, a citation and Rs 10 lakh cash at a function by the Prime Minister in New Delhi on April 28, 2017.
Strangely though, while at one end Centre is giving agriculture based awards to small states of the North East, the farmers from Tamil Nadiu were on a month long agitation at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, arguing that a government cannot be allowed to be insensitive towards the plight of the drought-hit farmers who commit suicide. The skulls of such victims were part of the protest. The farmers also drank urine during their protest!
In the case of Meghalaya, besides the forgotten Potatoes Research Centre and the attempt to grow coffee, there is no other central scheme which has been taken on with vigour which can really be change agent which is the need of the hour. The concerned authorities should also review the performances of the Agricultural department of Meghalaya as stakeholders of Change, with the assistance of ICAR.

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