Tough work: Women busy sowing paddy saplings in a field in Ranchi
A proposed “seed village” in Ranchi’s Ormanjhi block with the avowed mission of helping farmers reduce their dependence on the market is yet to see the light of day, four years after a deal was signed and an advance of Rs 27 lakh shelled out to an NGO.
This startling fact came to light in the 2012-13 CAG report tabled in the Assembly last week. The report includes a scathing attack on the agriculture department for poor planning, opaque vision and, more importantly, bureaucratic red tape and non-utilisation of funds that led to the manmade crisis in the sector.
The seed village as a concept had immense potential to make farmers independent. But as with all good things in Jharkhand, this too remained a non-starter.
According to the report, the department signed an agreement with Gene Campaign, a voluntary organisation, and paid an advance of Rs 27.50 lakh to work on the plan in April 2010.
According to the agreement, the NGO was to submit a half-year progress report in the absence of which stringent action was to be initiated against its director.
Four years down the line, the status of the project or the funds released for it is not known. No action has been taken against the voluntary outfit either.
Scrutiny of records revealed that the NGO had never submitted a progress report because no work had been done ever. Last known, the funds were found idling in November 2013. By not initiating any action, the state agriculture director inadvertently extended undue benefits to the NGO, the CAG report said.
The 2010 agreement said the agriculture department would purchase a chunk of the new seeds produced in Ormanjhi and disburse the same in other areas, thereby lessening farmer dependency on the market.
When The Telegraph contacted Gene Campaign’s programme co-ordinator Sumant Kumar on August 6, he claimed that they “sincerely did their work” in the 2010-12 cropping season. Processing of seeds was done at a plant in Hazaribagh’s Goria Karma area since the voluntary outfit couldn’t set up its own facility.
“But, in the last moment, the agriculture department refused to purchase seeds from us. I don’t exactly remember the quantity; it was anywhere between 1,400kg and 1,800kg,” said Kumar.
He couldn’t furnish further details and reasoned that he had joined only a year ago. “I have to check file history. All I can say is that we did our job,” he stressed, adding that they had undertaken a similar project in Angara block of Ranchi that is being funded by Nabard. “The project is worth around Rs 9.56 lakh and meant for 2014-16.”