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An expert among ministers

IFP Editorial: He may be a fast learner, but when did Manipur minister Th Biswajit become an expert on oil palm cultivation and its impact?

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 19 Jun 2022, 7:00 pm

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One would wonder where and how does he gets his briefs from, so as to be able to speak like an expert on any subject matter relating to whichever department he is in charge of. Normally it is the duty of the concerned bureaucrats to brief the ministers on the broad outlines of a policy or project and it takes a while for most ministers to absorb whatever is being fed to them. However, in the case of Minister Th Biswajit it is being said that bureaucrats would often end up being listeners to his lectures.

Maybe, he is a fast learner. In the last term, he handled four major departments of PWD, Power, RD & PR and Commerce & Industries among othersand he could talk for hours on any subject-matter involving these departments. Now, he retains Power and is in charge of Agriculture, Forests, Environment and Climate Change and Science and Technology. The new additions are mostly technical and it would be wise for him to be a good listener this time before opening his mouth.

The other day, he spoke about the problem of chemical fertilisers and how he intends to streamline its distribution at a function related to sustainable organic farming.

 Biswajit was speaking to the media during the launch of Direct Beneficiary Transfer to 7,000 registered farmers under Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) at his office chamber.

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What would have the practitioners of organic farmers thought if he was addressing them in an open function. As we all know, organic farming is just the opposite of chemical fertilizer based farming.

At a time when leaders are mulling a reversal of agricultural practices based on chemical fertilizers in the long term and eyeing the prospects bio-fertilizers, the Agriculture Minister’s speech was in fact contradictory.

Maybe he was not properly briefed on the basic principles of Organic Mission or he did not have the time to take a briefing by concerned officials. Yes, one needs to solve the perennial problem of scarcity of chemical fertilisers for the present.

For lack of a sound and sustainable agricultural policy, today’s farmers heavily depend on chemical fertilisers. The state agriculture department needs to come up with a well thought-out policy for timely procurement and distribution of fertilizers so as to reach the fields where it is most needed, instead of resorting to knee-jerk distribution mechanisms from time to time.

Now comes the part of oil palm cultivation, which is being pushed hard by Centre to be implemented in the north-eastern states including Manipur and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Chief Minister N Biren Singh recently admitted that there has been a delay in expansion of projects due to public concern raised about the adverse effect of oil palm plantation.

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In a recent seminar on oil palm cultivation, the Chief Minister appealed to experts and scientists to give a positive message to clear the existing apprehensions among the people with regard to soil and environmental degradation with scientifically proven facts.

However, the Agriculture minister went one step further. He said, oil palm cultivation will not only improve the economy of the state but also the general environment of the area where it is cultivated. He was speaking at the inauguration of District Agriculture Fair at State Mechanized Farm Complex, Lamphelpat.

He further said, the government plans to take up oil palm cultivation at the barren foothills of the state with an integrated farming system. According to him, other countries might have faced a negative impact from oil palm cultivation owning to unsuitable local conditions whereas in Manipur it would have a positive impact on the environment. The question is, when did he become an expert on oil palm cultivation and its impact?

_Editorial

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First published:19 Jun 2022, 7:00 pm

Tags:

th biswajitagriculture ministeroil palmifp editorial

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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