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New agriculture policy ready for rollout

Calcutta, Sept. 8: The government today said it will implement its new agriculture policy from the rabi crop season beginning October.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today met agriculture minister Kamal Guha and finance minister Asim Dasgupta at Writers’ Buildings to discuss the pros and cons of implementing the policy next month.

The finance minister sanctioned Rs 11 crore for the implementation of the farm plan. His department has assured all assistance to the agriculture department for the time-bound production of crops.

“We will approach the farmers with new farming techniques, new kinds of fertilisers and seeds. It is quite natural that those sowing traditional seeds will hesitate. Our officers will fan out to the fields and educate the farmers on various aspects of the new policy. It will take at least two to three seasons to make four crore farmers cultivating on 54 lakh hectares understand it,” said Guha.

The new policy envisages a market-driven approach with emphasis on cash crops and a shift in crop pattern where there is a glut of traditional produce. The policy also speaks of a shift from the use of traditional fertilisers like ammonia and urea to organic fertilisers.

A section of officials at Writers’ Buildings and leaders have found shadows of McKinsey’s recommendations on agricultural marketing in the new policy though the chief minister had confirmed earlier that it was drawn up by the government and the global consultant had nothing to do with it.

According to the new plan, the seed corporations will be vital. Seed banks will be formed and researches on new high-yielding varieties will be conducted there. “The corporations will house soil and seed testing laboratories. We will set up such laboratories at the subdivision level as well,” said Guha.

He added that agriculture officers in the districts have been informed about the new policy and they will educate the farmers about the urgent need to use new techniques, seeds and fertilisers to make maximum profit from his plot of land.

Students who have studied agriculture at the Class-XII level will also be engaged by the corporations to educate farmers in modern farming and help them get over inhibitions. They would be paid Rs 500 every month, said Guha.

From next month, Guha said, agriculture department officers will hold field demonstrations for the farmers.

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