The Bengal government has achieved the target of sowing kharif paddy this season despite Cyclone Yaas and floods and the officials are giving the credit to the welfare schemes initiated by the state for farmers.
“This year, the target of kharif cultivation was 42.06 lakh hectares. A total of 100.80 per cent of the target area was cultivated in the kharif season this year. This is a success considering the challenges we faced because of the cyclone and floods,” said a senior government official.
But, sources said, schemes like Krishak Bandhu scheme and Kisan Credit Cards played an important role in drawing farmers to the fields despite the cyclone and floods that had inundated their fields. “In June, the first instalment of Krishak Bandhu Scheme, which ensured Rs 10,000 for an acre, was released. Moreover, compensation for the cyclone-affected was also released by June. All these gave confidence to the farmers to cultivate their plots,” said a source.
A section of officials also said the initiative by the government to issue KCCs to majority of the farmers also helped.
“Now, nearly 80 per cent of the 72 lakh farmers are covered under the KCC which enables them to get loans on easy terms from the banks reducing their dependency on local money-lenders. Moreover, crops of the farmers who get loans are insured automatically. So, the farmers who were facing trouble also went for cultivating their plots,” said another official.
Achieving the target of kharif season is important in Bengal as this is the only season when maximum paddy production is done. Besides, the state also needs huge quantum of paddy to run free foodgrains scheme like Khadyasathi in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“So achieving the target will mean that we will remain self-reliant on rice,” said an officer.
Bengal has a consumption requirement of 155 lakh tons of paddy, while the state’s average production is 165 lakh tons.
“So, a shortfall in production could have led to a tough situation for the cash-strapped government. The government would have been forced to buy paddy from outside to run the cheap grains scheme,” said an official.