July 15, 2018
Bengal Govt ensures sustainability of production & income for farmers
The crop scenario of Bengal is very bright. The Agriculture Department has devised crop-specific interventions to ensure long-term sustainability of production, coupled with assured and improved incomes for farmers.
The expenditure in the agriculture and agri-allied sector has increased more than 6 times, from Rs 3,029 crore during financial year (FY) 2010-11 to Rs 20,283 crore during FY 2017-18. As a result, among other things, the farmers’ average annual household income has increased from Rs 91,000 during FY 2010-11 to Rs 2.9 lakh during FY 2017-18.
Rice, wheat, maize, jute, pulses, oilseeds and sugarcane are some of the major crops of the state.
Rice: System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an improved technology, has been adopted to increase production of rice at low cost. The production of rice has increased from 134 lakh metric tonnes (MT) during FY 2010-11 to 159 lakh MT during FY 2017-18. The State Government has been able to increase the area and production of aromatic rice like gobindobhog and tulaipanji.
Pulses: The production of pulses has increased from 1.77 lakh during FY 2010-11 to 4.4 lakh MT during 2017-18 by the Government’s using of its extension machinery to increase the area under pulse production by utilising the rice fallow areas.
Oilseeds: Stress has been given in increased production and yield of sunflower and groundnut because of their high potential. Distribution of quality seeds and other agricultural inputs, and training of farmers have been identified as the key components by the State Government to achieve its targets. Like for pulses, the Government is using its extension machinery to increase the area under production by utilising the rice fallow areas. Production has increased from 7 lakh MT during FY 2010-11 to 11 lakh MT during FY 2017-18.
Jute: Jute is an important cash crop of Bengal, covering an area of around 5.22 lakh hectares (ha). During FY 2016-17, the production and productivity were 81.87 lakh bales and 15.67 bales/ha, respectively. The target for area under production and production for 2017-18 were 5.6 lakh ha and 84 lakh bales, respectively. The State Government, in collaboration with the National Food Security Mission (Commercial Crops) – Jute, runs Demonstration Centres, and supports the distribution of quality seeds and training of farmers with the aim of producing higher quality fibres.
Potato: Potato is a major crop in the State. The production during 2016-17 was 144.48 lakh MT. Emphasis has been given on the availability of disease-free quality micro-tubers. For this, the government has undertaken a programme for the production of good quality foundation seeds of potato from breeder seeds in government farms, so that high-quality seeds are available for the production of certified seeds.
Benefits for farmers in the Sundarbans
More than 3 lakh beneficiaries in the small and marginal farmers category were distributed various agricultural inputs like seeds of yam and sunflower, vermicompost, etc. and more than 1.08 lakh agricultural implements like paddy threshers, sprayers, pump sets, etc.
Special emphasis is being given on organic farming. In the last three years, 120 organic clusters have been formed in 13 districts.
Soil Health Card Scheme
The Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme is designed to provide information to farmers on soil acidity/salinity/alkalinity and nutrient content, and provide recommendations for nutrient management and the use of fertilizers.
The scheme has seen a massive increase in the issuance of SHCs after the coming of the Trinamool Congress Government to power – from 22,177 in 2011 to 53.46 lakh in 2017.
As part of the scheme, farmers are issued soil health cards (SHC) containing all soil-related information and advisories on crop-specific doses for fertilizers and micro-nutrients. The data on soils is obtained after the testing of samples in government and government-accredited laboratories. SHCs are issued every three years.
The number of soil testing laboratories has been increased to 22 from 10, out of which 19 are under the State Government and three are run in public-private partnership (PPP) mode. A fertilizer quality control laboratory has been established in Cooch Behar and a bio-fertilizer control laboratory in Bardhaman.
The Maa, Mati, Manush Government, led by Mamata Banerjee, has been working hard for the welfare of farmers. Schemes have been launched for their all round development – from production to storage to financial aid for losses due to natural calamities to several other aspects. And the results are here for all to see.