By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 25 Jun: State Agriculture Minister Ganesh Joshi, over virtual medium from the Directorate of Horticulture located at the Circuit House, here, directly interacted with farmers’ representatives from all 95 development blocks of the state. On the occasion, he sought their suggestions on the ‘vision document’ of the Agriculture Department. “Agriculture and Horticulture can play an important role in the development and prosperity of the state,” the Minister emphasised. “The problem of migration can be addressed by connecting the youth of the state with profitable agriculture and horticulture.” In order to make this statement a reality, he is busy preparing the vision document of the Agriculture Department. Instead of just relying on the officials sitting in Dehradun, he is focusing on the needs and reality of the farmers. Joshi is also directly interacting with the district level officers. On 23 June, he had convened a review meeting with CHOs, DHOs and CAOs of the districts. Yesterday, taking this link forward, he held a direct dialogue with more than 350 farmers of all 95 blocks in all 13 districts of the state. The Minister said that farmers have shown great enthusiasm for this dialogue. He emphasised that it has been his endeavour since the very first day that the schemes of the department should meet the requirements of the farmers. The department and all its personnel should be more accountable to the farmers. Therefore, in order to keep the action plan for the next five years close to reality, he is personally consulting the field officials and farmers directly. Excellent suggestions have been provided by the farmers. He gave importance to input management at the time of crop preparation, irrigation management, post harvest management and marketing management. This would get the right price for the farmers’ products. Under the “Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority” APEDA), they would work together to strengthen the system of export of worldclass agri products.
Review lasted 5 hours
The dialogue of the Agriculture Minister with the farmers was expected to be completed in a maximum of 2-3 hours. But, owing to the Agriculture Minister’s interest in hearing the suggestions, it lasted a full 5 hours. The dialogue was conducted by the minister himself the entire while. Lunch was taken by participants in turn. The farmers were pleased to have the Agriculture Minister among them for so long. Eighty-five year old farmer Jit Ram Saini of Majra, Bahadarabad, Madan Bisht of Dhaula Devi Block, Almora, Vikram Singh of Ramgarh and Rupendra Rawat of Nainidanda, Pauri, expressed their appreciated the Minister’s initiative. Everyone was eager to have their say.
A number of suggestions were offered during the marathon dialogue were. The protection of crops from wild animals was the biggest concern of the farmers. It was suggested that fencing be increased and replaced with solar fencing. Many farmers wanted land consolidation to be made mandatory. There was the demand for increasing the subsidy on all types of agricultural inputs like seeds, fertilisers, agricultural implements, minor irrigation equipment, anti-hail nets, etc. They also wanted setting up of mandis at the district level, as well as cold storages and soil testing centres.
There was also a suggestion to develop nurseries for improved quality seeds and plants at the local level. Sale of compost manure was sought through investment centres. Fixation of minimum support price for organic products was also suggested. It was advised that payment of installments of KCC should be synced with the time of ripening of the crop, instead of every 6 months. Provision of anti-hail nets for litchi and mango was sought. Also, inclusion of agriculture and horticulture subjects in the school curriculum from the secondary level itself was demanded. o strengthen the irrigation system, a suggestion was also made to source water from springs and rivers with use of solar pumps and repair of irrigation canals. Also present at the interaction were Director, Agriculture, Gaurishankar, Director, Horticulture, HS Baweja, and other officers of the Agriculture and Horticulture Departments.