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World Bank aid for Assam farmers

By Ron Duarah

DIBRUGARH, April 16 � The Government of India, the Government of Assam and the World Bank signed an agreement on Friday for an additional IDA (International Development Association) credit of US$ 50 million (about Rs 260 crore) to support on-going activities under the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AACP) which aims to increase the productivity, profitability, and market access of the farming community in Assam.

The loan, if utilised properly, would benefit more than three lakh farmers of the State. The additional credit will complement and ensure the Project�s long-term sustainability.

The focus is on mainstreaming management approaches and best practices acquired under the ongoing Project, make ground water usage more sustainable whereby investments in shallow tube well irrigation are coupled with a comprehensive monitoring of groundwater use, strengthen the Agriculture Technology Management Agencies (ATMAs) to provide better agricultural services and improve the rural road network for better market connectivity.

Investments in rural roads in selected districts, covering areas that do not fall under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), will demonstrate low-cost road construction and innovative bridge designs which can be used to connect smaller habitations and linking agriculture production with markets in a cost-effective manner.

�The additional credit will consolidate activities undertaken in the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project, enhance long term sustainability of measures undertaken under the Project and improve development impacts in selected districts where the demand for investment grant has been pronounced,� said Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

Specifically, it will scale up the Project�s impact by building synergies with ongoing schemes of the Government of Assam (GOA) and the Government of India (GOI); establish a system for sustainable use of groundwater; and mainstream project collaboration with the private sector; as well as enhance investments in irrigation, drainage, mechanization, extension advice, rural haats (markets) and roads to increase production, productivity and market access in selected districts.

The agreements for the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AACP) were signed by Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Union Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; Rajeev Chandra Joshi, Commissioner & Secretary, Finance Department, on behalf of the Government of Assam; and Roland Lomme, Governance Adviser, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank.

�According to the Planning Commission estimates of 1999-2000, about 36 percent of the people in Assam live below the poverty line and the State is fourth in terms of poverty ratio, next only to Orissa, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Assam is a focus State for Government of India�s poverty alleviation initiatives,� said Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director for India. �The ongoing Project has played an important role in increasing the productivity and market access of targeted farmer groups of the State -primarily the small and marginal farmers - and has mobilised more than 300,000 beneficiaries in more than 63,000 beneficiary groups across the fishery, agriculture, dairy, forestry, and livestock sectors,� he added.

Since one of the objectives of the additional credit is to scale up some of the successful investments under the original Project, investments will also focus on increased crop production through a combination of increased irrigated Boro rice production, crop diversification, improved extension advice, expanded use of micro-nutrients, and opening up additional production areas through drainage.

�The Project takes an integrated approach toward enabling farmers to take advantage of rapidly changing consumer demand and marketing channels,� said Manivannan Pathy, Project Task Manager and Senior Agricultural Specialist, World Bank.

The Project will be financed by a credit from the IDA � the World Bank�s concessionary lending arm � which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a 5-year grace period.

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World Bank aid for Assam farmers

DIBRUGARH, April 16 � The Government of India, the Government of Assam and the World Bank signed an agreement on Friday for an additional IDA (International Development Association) credit of US$ 50 million (about Rs 260 crore) to support on-going activities under the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AACP) which aims to increase the productivity, profitability, and market access of the farming community in Assam.

The loan, if utilised properly, would benefit more than three lakh farmers of the State. The additional credit will complement and ensure the Project�s long-term sustainability.

The focus is on mainstreaming management approaches and best practices acquired under the ongoing Project, make ground water usage more sustainable whereby investments in shallow tube well irrigation are coupled with a comprehensive monitoring of groundwater use, strengthen the Agriculture Technology Management Agencies (ATMAs) to provide better agricultural services and improve the rural road network for better market connectivity.

Investments in rural roads in selected districts, covering areas that do not fall under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), will demonstrate low-cost road construction and innovative bridge designs which can be used to connect smaller habitations and linking agriculture production with markets in a cost-effective manner.

�The additional credit will consolidate activities undertaken in the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project, enhance long term sustainability of measures undertaken under the Project and improve development impacts in selected districts where the demand for investment grant has been pronounced,� said Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

Specifically, it will scale up the Project�s impact by building synergies with ongoing schemes of the Government of Assam (GOA) and the Government of India (GOI); establish a system for sustainable use of groundwater; and mainstream project collaboration with the private sector; as well as enhance investments in irrigation, drainage, mechanization, extension advice, rural haats (markets) and roads to increase production, productivity and market access in selected districts.

The agreements for the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AACP) were signed by Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Union Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; Rajeev Chandra Joshi, Commissioner & Secretary, Finance Department, on behalf of the Government of Assam; and Roland Lomme, Governance Adviser, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank.

�According to the Planning Commission estimates of 1999-2000, about 36 percent of the people in Assam live below the poverty line and the State is fourth in terms of poverty ratio, next only to Orissa, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Assam is a focus State for Government of India�s poverty alleviation initiatives,� said Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director for India. �The ongoing Project has played an important role in increasing the productivity and market access of targeted farmer groups of the State -primarily the small and marginal farmers - and has mobilised more than 300,000 beneficiaries in more than 63,000 beneficiary groups across the fishery, agriculture, dairy, forestry, and livestock sectors,� he added.

Since one of the objectives of the additional credit is to scale up some of the successful investments under the original Project, investments will also focus on increased crop production through a combination of increased irrigated Boro rice production, crop diversification, improved extension advice, expanded use of micro-nutrients, and opening up additional production areas through drainage.

�The Project takes an integrated approach toward enabling farmers to take advantage of rapidly changing consumer demand and marketing channels,� said Manivannan Pathy, Project Task Manager and Senior Agricultural Specialist, World Bank.

The Project will be financed by a credit from the IDA � the World Bank�s concessionary lending arm � which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a 5-year grace period.