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Farm commission formed with IIM touch

Calcutta, Aug. 25: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government today announced the composition of the agriculture commission formed to ensure the “economic progress of farmers” and “maintain food security” in the state.

Agricultural scientist and former Calcutta University vice-chancellor R.N. Basu will head the 15-member panel that will submit its report to the government in six months.

An IIM Calcutta marketing professor, Sudas Roy, will also be part of the commission.

“The commission will not only look into important aspects like increasing production in agriculture but also related sectors like animal resources, fisheries and agri-marketing,” agriculture minister Naren De said.

It will also suggest ways of crop diversification. The report will be forwarded to the Planning Commission.

Other members of the commission include Dipak Kumar Bagchi, the vice-chancellor of Bidhan Chandra agricultural university in Kalyani, Madura Swaminathan, an ISI professor and daughter of agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, experts in animal husbandry, horticulture, fisheries and representatives of the Left farmers’ unions.

The government had felt the need to create such a body in the wake of allegations that it was ignoring agriculture in its new drive for industriali-sation. Both De and land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah had voiced apprehensions about acquisition of farmland for industry and expressed fear that it might affect the state’s food security.

The chief minister announced the setting up of the commission to ensure better imp- lementation of the government’s new market-driven agriculture policy.

The agriculture minister today said the commission will advise the government on crops suitable for various soil types and in different climatic zones. It will identify productivity problems in agriculture and animal produce, monitor quality of seeds and help improve water management and use of rainwater in cultivation. “Besides, we want to ensure that agriculture can be expanded as a source of rural employment,” De said.

The commission will have four sub-committees on animal resource development, aqua-culture, horticulture and social forestry.

Although Bengal grows surplus rice and potatoes, it has to import 50 per cent of its wheat from other states. It is also 75 per cent short in pulses and has to procure 60 per cent oilseeds from other states.

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