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Organic platter, soon on order

- Jorhat & Guwahati top beneficiaries of peri-urban agricultural project

Jorhat, March 14: Have you been craving for a leafy lettuce? Or an organic beetroot to brighten up your plate of salad, besides that additional dose of nutrition? Or even for poultry and dairy products of your choice to pamper your palate?

Well, the day you can place your orders for your favourite munch is not too far away.

Later this year, the urbanite in Assam, starting with those in Jorhat and Guwahati, will be able to ask the farmer next door to deliver produce according to his requirement once the peri-urban agricultural project gets rolling across the periphery of urban centres.

“Farmers in the periphery of Jorhat and Guwhati will be asked to produce items according to the requirement of the people there. We will divide the farmers into different groups and each would be asked to produce only certain items according to requirement,” vice-chancellor of Assam Agricultural University, K.M. Bujarbaruah, told The Telegraph.

The project, which will be launched by AAU and funded by the Centre and the state governments jointly, aims to make the urban areas self-sufficient in food, thus stopping import.

“We will start with Jorhat and Guwahati,” Bujarbaruah said. He said the government would provide technical support, seeds and feritilizers. The farmers would be required to give their land and manpower.

According to him, it is going to be a win-win situation for the farmers as they would get a captive market and the predetermined output would cut down wastage or distress sale.

According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), peri-urban agriculture allows farmers to save on costs because of proximity to consumers and of less need for an extensive and expensive infrastructure for transportation and preservation of perishable products. “Moreover, quality increases because of greater responsiveness to consumer preferences as well as availability of products,” an FAO note says.

Bujarbaruah said surveys regarding the requirement in both Guwahati and Jorhat have been completed. “It would be a Herculean task and work would start as soon as funds are available. We are hoping to execute the project in the two towns later this year,” he said.

The university has also planned to develop the fishery, dairy, floriculture and horticulture sectors in the state in a massive way with an over Rs 1,000 crore project. “Talks are on with the US and Japan for funding,” he said.

He said a wetland area at Panbari-Digaru near Guwahati has already been selected for a massive dairy project where 2,500 high-yielding cows would be housed. “There will be automatic milking technology and it is expected to cater to the milk requirement in the state to a large extent,” he said.

The vice-chancellor said the university would also launch an orange mission in the state from the next financial year. “Since orange produced in Tinsukia district is famous all over the country, we want to develop the orange industry,” he said.

Assam produces about 1.36 lakh tonnes of oranges per year and most of this is produced in Tinsukia district.