MLAs, MPs must take steps to set up organised markets, cold storage
Manash Pratim Dutta
GUWAHATI, March 24: Helping poor farmers by providing them free ration and cash under different government schemes is appreciable but there is a need to set up an organised market and cold storage facilities in every panchayat area to fetch long-term benefits, observed a section of farmers while talking to The Assam Tribune.
During the conversation, a progressive farmer from Darrang district Dhrubajyoti Saikia said, “Our State governments have always formulated different agriculture schemes that have already been implemented by states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, etc. However, unlike these States, farmers in Assam have limited agricultural land, due to which they cannot reap the same benefits under such schemes, which are tailor made for well-off farmers in northern India."
At the same time, Saikia, an award-winning farmer of the State, appealed to every political party not to differentiate among the farmers of Assam during the selection of beneficiaries for agriculture and animal husbandry related schemes.
“Development of the agricultural sector will bring a real change in Assam. For the purpose, we need systematic markets across the State through which our farmers will be able to get proper price against their produce. But till date, no political party has given due attention to the agriculture sector,” Saikia rued.
Nabanita Deka, another national award winning woman farmer from Jorhat who primarily focuses on organic farming said, “At present availing an agriculture loan from a bank is a challenge for every farmer. No bank wants to take the risk by giving a loan to a farmer as there is no systematic market in the State and chances of loss in the agriculture sector is very high. For a long time, we have been appealing to our public representatives to address the issues of farmers seriously. During election time, every political party makes tall promises, but after the elections get over, no MLA or MP wants to address our issues.”
Deka also stressed on the need of a specific market for organic farming produce, as in the general market it is not possible for a farmer to make profits by selling organic produce.
“We need a strategy from the State government to minimise our losses, or else the economy of Assam will never grow. As a part of the strategy, we need cold storage, as every season we face losses and remain deprived from getting the due prices. At the same time, we also want a system that will ensure that we can export our farm produces, more so during the peak season, when we witness excess production and lower market demand,” Mahidul Islam, a farmer from Barpeta district said.
Islam also cited floods as a major challenge for the farmers of his area. He opined that introduction of flood-resilient technology in the farming sector could minimise the losses. However, he also alleged that getting a loan from a bank is still a big challenge for a farmer like him.
"Our state will witness real development only if the farming sector develops. Otherwise, no development scheme can bring sustainable change for us,” Islam added.
Runa Rafique, a pig rearer from Kamrup district said that due to lack of proper initiatives from the State government, the piggery sector faced immense losses during African Swine Fever pandemic.
“Many pig rearers, including me, quit pig farming after facing huge losses due to the pandemic. Now we are shifting to other farming to make up the loss. Although the situation is very serious, we have not heard a single word from any political party to help the pig rearers of Assam,” Rafique said.
Manoj Basumatary, a pig rearer from Sonitpur district also emphasised on need of a holistic approach in the implementation of various agricultural and animal husbandry schemes in the State.