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Farmers voice budget demands

Patna, Jan. 20: In an exercise to prepare the state’s budget for financial year 2011-12, state finance minister Sushil Kumar Modi today met farmers, from across the state, who presented a wishlist to improve their economic conditions and increase productivity.

“We have been holding pre-budget meetings with the stakeholders for the past six years when the NDA government took over the reins of the state. We have received umpteen suggestions from farmers, some of them are really good ones. We will try our best to incorporate the important suggestions in the state budget,” deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi told reporters after meeting the farmers for more than three hours.

After this, the government would hold pre-budget discussions with representatives of trade and industry, doctors and economists, Modi said. During the meeting, agriculture minister Narendra Singh and agriculture produce commissioner apart from other officials were also present.

Stating that agriculture was on top of the state government’s agenda, Modi said: “Varied kinds of suggestions cropped up during the meeting but the major thrust was on providing subsidy on agricultural equipment, improving irrigational facilities, providing better and high-yielding variety seeds, making fertilisers easily available at a cheaper rate.”

The increase in the general price level of food items was directly related to the productivity and hence, Bihar can only sort out the problem of food shortage as the overuse of land in Punjab and Haryana has depleted fertility.

Production of foodgrains touched around 122 lakh tonnes last year as against 85 lakh tonnes in 2005, an increase of 40 per cent despite droughts and floods in the state, he said.

The state government has also made a huge increase in the allocation to the agriculture department which was Rs 20 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 803 crore in the current fiscal, an increase of over 40 times, the finance minister said, while adding that allocation on agriculture machinery has witnessed a huge jump from Rs 6 crore to Rs 150 crore in five years.

The minister announced the state government would organise a fair of modern agricultural equipment from March 4-10 in Patna, where farmers can purchase machinery at a subsidised rate.

During the meeting, more than 30 to 35 farmers gave suggestions and also expressed concern on certain issues.

A farmer from Purnea suggested that a banana research centre should be opened in the Kosi region on the lines of those at Trichy and Hajipur as the latter was incapable to boost banana farming.

The farmers gave umpteen suggestions such as timely payment of subsidy to the farmers, storage capacity in every panchayat, creation of farmers’ apex body, teaching of agriculture as a subject from primary school level among others.

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