Calcutta, Jan. 30: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told agriculture minister Kamal Guha today that the draft farm policy he had submitted would be taken up at a meeting of the core committee of ministers on February 5.
Development and planning minister Nirupam Sen had earlier drawn up a draft policy based on the recommendations of the global consultants, McKinsey. At a meeting of Cabinet ministers last year, minor Left Front partners, particularly the Forward Bloc led by Guha, got together to stall Sen’s draft. They were particularly opposed to the idea of contract farming.
Guha — who met Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings — told newspersons he had drafted the new policy on a “swadeshi” line. He added that he urged the chief minister there should be unanimity in the Cabinet this time to ensure that the new policy was not shot down again.
Sources in the CPM, however, indicated that both Bhattacharjee and the CPM had reservations about the draft policy prepared by Guha.
In his policy, Guha is believed to have rejected all the recommendations made by McKinsey and has urged the government to depend solely on the agriculture department and its experts in shaping and implementing the new policy.
The 21-page draft policy prepared by Guha has been examined by senior CPM leaders, including some ministers in the Cabinet core committee, and they apparently do not agree with all his recommendations.
In his policy, Guha has opposed the idea of borrowing funds from multinationals. He is even opposed to the idea of purchasing seeds, fertilisers or other products from multinational companies.
Guha has recommended the involvement of business houses based in the state to procure fertilisers, seeds and equipment for cultivation instead of letting in foreigners.
The government had engaged McKinsey to help it develop the marketing of agro-based products. “We had not engaged the global consultant to help the government in shaping its new agriculture policy. We wanted to develop our agro-marketing to earn revenue in the country as well as abroad. But the consultant made some suggestions related directly to agriculture. Both agriculture and agriculture marketing are related issues. Developing the scope of agro-marketing may not be possible without developing agriculture. Naturally, we should not discard all the recommendations made by McKinsey,” a senior CPM leader said.
Sources in the Bloc claimed that Bhattacharjee was supposed to discuss the agriculture policy at length with Guha during the day but could not do so because of other preoccupations.
About 500 delegates from 14 states will meet in Purulia for the sixth All-India Agragami Kisan Sabha being organised by the Bloc between February 1 and 3, reports our correspondent there.
“We are expecting almost 100,000 farmers from the district to turn up as well,” said Bir Singh Mahato, the general secretary of the farmers’ wing.