The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Granary turns farm lab
- New agriculture policy takes off with field tutorial

Burdwan, Oct. 24: The new agriculture policy framed by the government has finally made it to the farmers. Granary of Bengal Burdwan is the first testing ground of the policy that generated heat even as it was being drawn up.

The agriculture department has launched an awareness programme to convince farmers that the market-driven approach the policy takes is actually for their good. It would mean an end to the cycle of bumper production and distress sale, they are being told.

District agriculture officials have taken up the job to make the farmers realise the importance of crop diversification. “We have to make them (farmers) understand that only growing a particular crop in large quantity will not help. There has to be a need-based sowing and cultivation,” said an official.

Burdwan was chosen to kick-start the new policy as the district is the highest producer of rice. Agricultural scientists are now in the district to tutor farmers on a variety of crops that can be cultivated on the same land with an eye on the market and economy.

However, the district authorities are cautious. “To implement the new policy, we have to educate farmers on new high-yielding seeds and new varieties of organic fertilisers that they have never used before. But we are being cautious because we do not want to give them a scare,” said an official.

The farmers have been using particular varieties of seeds and fertilisers for generations and it will not be easy for them to switch over to new types. The agriculture department has marked the ensuing rabi season to begin what was dubbed a “difficult experiment”.

Officials said seeds for wheat, sunflower, mustard and khesari will be distributed among farmers this rabi season and experts will demonstrate how to sow them with proper fertilisers.

The awareness drive will be gradually spread across the state. Committees have been set up in every district to monitor the programme. The district magistrates, sabhadhipatis and the principal agriculture officers comprise the committees.

Director of agriculture Dhabaleswar Konar said 13.5 lakh hectares are being used to produce the boro crop. “The production of rice paddy and potato is so high that the farmers are not getting a remunerative price. That is why we are insisting on their growing cash crops like pulses and oil seeds,” he said.

The government has identified one lakh hectares across the state for production of wheat and the target produce has been set at nearly 2.5 lakh tonnes. Pulses will be grown on 50,000 acres and the production target is about 43,000 tonnes.

More than 95,000 tonnes of oil seeds will be produced on one lakh hectares, according to the target set.

Sabhadhipati of Burdwan zilla parishad Uday Sarkar said: “Our farmers should be the pioneers in adopting the new methods.” He added that they are being tutored the benefits of using bio-fertilisers. “Generally, the farmers here have a notion that the use of bio-fertilisers will affect their land in the long run. But that is wrong,” said Sarkar.

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