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US experts to assess scheme

Silchar, Jan. 11: A team of US rural development experts that arrived in Aizawl yesterday to study the progress achieved in the past three years by the flagship New Land Use Policy, will interact with farmers and artisans of Mizoram during an event organised on January 14 to reward the latter for achievements in their respective fields.

The visiting experts — all from Minnesota University in the US — are being led by Karlyn Eckman, professor of water resources and will stay in the state till Republic Day and inspect the rural development hotspots.

Karlyn is being accompanied by Dean Current, an agro-forestry specialist, Joe Manger, a bio-systems engineer, and Michel Sherman, a specialist in animal health.

The Rs 2,473-crore centrally funded new land use policy is being implemented in Mizoram for a five-year period and is aimed at bringing about major changes in farming by eliminating the wasteful practice of jhum, while giving stress on horticulture to provide local farmers with better economic opportunities.

It also aims at improving handicrafts, weaving, animal husbandry and veterinary and small-scale rural industries as a part of a scheme to popularise such products throughout the country for opening new marketing avenues for the farmers.

A source associated with the programme today told this correspondent over phone from Aizawl that the Mizoram government would showcase the improvement in rural economy in a daylong farmers’ conference to be held on January 14 at Vanapa hall in Aizawl.

The source added that the new land use policy beneficiaries and senior government officials would attend the event, that would provide a platform to the farmers and artisans of the state to interact with each other and share their respective experiences.

The US team will interact with the farmers and artisans on that day to get a broad idea about the achievements of the policy in state since its inception three years back.

The government has also instituted prizes for farmers and artisans for excellence in farming practices and horticulture along with development of rural industries and handicrafts.