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Govt schemes ease life, hit rabi crops
- Better seed policy, irrigation could help

Jorhat, Jan. 13: The villagers in Assam are now giving less importance to cultivation, especially in the rabi crop season, after experiencing an easy way of life under the much-hyped MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and Anna Suraksha schemes.

An official of the state agriculture department told this correspondent that with the new government schemes being launched to benefit BPL families, cultivation has taken a back seat.

“With the onset of winter, people have become reluctant to work in the fields, as the schemes are doling out something or the other — be it subsidised rice, pulses, sugar, oil, blankets or even money. An unemployed is not bothered to work in his own field or labour in other people’s fields,” the official said.

“The MGNREGA ensures that a person is paid Rs 100 for a minimum of 90 days’ work in any calendar year and rice is given at Rs 3 to Rs 6 to BPL cardholders under the public distribution system and Rs 6 under Anna Suraksha Yojana. So if a person works under NREGA for three days in a month, he can feed himself and his family at least three meals of rice and dal a day. For Rs 100, he can buy more than 30kg of rice at Rs 3 per kg,” the official said.

He said given these schemes and the government policy of imposing seeds such as maize and linseed on the farmers, which they are usually not interested in, the matter becomes worse.

“In the first place, it is difficult to change their mindset so that they take to planting maize or oilseed. Then if the crop do not flourish or is attacked by pests or diseases, they lose interest,” he added.

The official said the farmers felt that if a food item like maize (which is converted into flour in Bihar) had no value, then it was not worth planting.

“In some places like Sadiya in Tinsulia district of Assam, maize is cultivated on a largescale and sent to Bihar and other places but there is no such marketing provision here,” he added.

In Assam, the rabi crop comprises vegetables and mustard.

Anything else is looked upon with suspicion,especial-ly in Upper Assam.

The official said lack of irrigation facilities was another obstacle in cultivating rabi crops.

He suggested that the government should provide irrigation facilities for cultivable land and formulate a proper seed policy for farmers.

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