Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Monday appealed to farmers of Manipur to use their paddy fields for growing vegetables after the harvesting of rice and not let the fields lie unutilised after the harvesting season.
Biren made the appeal to the farmers during the distribution-cum-demonstration programme of farm machineries and implements under the Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) which was organised by the Department of Agriculture at the City Convention Hall, Imphal Monday.
"Glad to have attended the Distribution-Cum-Demonstration Program of Farm Machineries & Implements under Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) in the presence of Hon'ble Agriculture Minister, Chairman Hill Area Committee, Chairman of various Boards & Hon’ble MLAs," Biren tweeted.
Speaking at the occasion, Biren said agricultural mechanization will not only enhance overall productivity but provide assistance to farmers in increasing crop yields as well as farmers' income and subsequently improve the economy of the state.
Biren assured of setting up a special sub-committee comprising Agriculture, IFCD, Horticulture, Minor Irrigation and others to look into the issue of lack of irrigation water during the dry season faced by the farmers in the state.
The chief minister also said a ‘Toll Free Number’ will be introduced to facilitate farmers who are willing to utilise their paddy fields after the rice harvesting season. Using the toll-free number, farmers can seek assistance or raise issues related with agriculture, he said.
Biren assured that the government will ensure provision of farmers requirements, including seeds and water.
Emphasising the importance of water harvesting during monsoon season, Biren highlighted that ponds are being developed at various locations under the Sarovar Mission.
Biren appreciated the Prime Minister’s Atmanirbhar Bharat, Self-reliant India and said that it is being aggressively implemented across Manipur in all sectors.
“We are focusing on various sectors so that Manipur also contributes in this movement for self-reliance,'' he said, highlighting the recently held Fish Mela, where several fish varieties, including indigenous ones were made available and the export of various items, including black rice,” Biren said.
Biren informed that Rs 80 crore has been allocated so that local rice varieties are bought from the farmers and provided to the people with subsidy from the Central government.
Stressing the importance of minimising the use of chemical fertilisers, he encouraged cattle rearing and organic fertiliser.
“If we deliberate on why we are losing paddy fields, we can see that it is due to non-productivity and the farmers looking for alternatives,” said Agriculture Minister Th Biswajit.
Biswajit said the government is promoting digital and natural farming and considering ways on how to enhance productivity and increase income of the farmers through use of technology like drones to save the paddy fields.
The agriculture department is all set to take up four types of demonstrations at different parts of Manipur, including natural farming through use of cow manure, organic farming through use of vermin-compose and others and farming using nano fertilisers and farming using fertilisers so that we can compare the productions, the minister said.
The minister urged the farmers against excessive use of chemical fertilisers, saying it leads to several health issues, and to instead focus and encourage natural and organic farming.
Commissioner of agriculture, RK Dinesh explained about the Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM). He said it is a centrally sponsored scheme launched in 2014-15 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Family Welfare.
The main objective of SMAM is to maximise use of mechanisation in farming, he said, adding that the power availability per ha is 2kW/ha (approx) in 2013-14 which is to be increased to 4.0 kW/ha by 2022.
He further explained how farmers can avail the scheme and subsidies provided under the scheme.
After the distribution programme, the chief minister, including other ministers, inspected the farm machinery and a demonstration of farm drones was showcased as a part of the function.
The function was also attended by Hill Areas Committee chairman Diganglung Gangmei; Thanga MLA, T Robindro; Patsoi MLA Sapam Kunjakeswor (Keba); Churachandpur MLA LM Khaute; Lamlai MLA Kh Ibomcha; Wangkhei MLA Th Arunkumar; Hiyanglam MLA Y Radheshyam.
The chief minister also inspected ongoing preparation for Sangai Festival at BOAT and Hatta Kangjeibung.