To boost the state’s economy, the Trinamool Congress government has set up an ambitious target of 8 per cent growth rate in agriculture and allied sectors for the next fiscal year. The current growth rate in agriculture is a mere 2.6 per cent.
A draft proposal prepared by the Agriculture Department on the ways to achieve the target has been submitted to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
To achieve the target, the state government is banking heavily on the funds released by the Centre under the Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) programme. so far, the state government has received Rs 269 crore under BGREI.
“It is not possible to ensure 8 per cent growth in agriculture sector alone. Therefore we are taking allied sector together with the agriculture sector. Horticulture, food processing, fisheries industries will be given priority to achieve the growth target,” said an official of the agriculture department involved in the preparation of the draft.
According to the official, 65 per cent population of the state are either directly or indirectly involved with the agriculture sector which contributes only 16 per cent to the state gross domestic product (SGDP).
“The target has been fixed to enhance the income of the peasants,” the official added.
However, the state's growth in agriculture and allied sector is far less compared to Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states. Both Gujarat and Maharashtra have achieved 10 per cent growth in agriculture and allied sector for which the contribution of agriculture to the SGDP has increased manifold over the past few years.
As per the proposal, funds will be used for improving crop yield by providing better quality seed to the farmers. “At a time when fertilizer prices are soaring following decontrolling of the prices of fertilizer other than urea, we are planning to provide 25 per cent of total requirement of fertilizers free of cost to the marginal farmers. Almost 95 per cent of the entire farming community are marginal farmers,” the official added.
Another target area of the government will be on increasing the production of aromatic rice. The state's annual rice production is something around 150 lakh tonnes.
The draft also lays emphasis on increasing the state’s total land under irrigation, which is currently at 67 per cent. “The irrigation system has not improved significantly in the last few years. Now, emphasis will be given to bring more land under irrigation,” the official said.
Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India was launched by the Centre in 2010-11 in the seven states of east India — Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orrisa, eastern UP and West Bengal — so that agriculture productivity is reasonably enhanced and stabilised in these areas.
Initially, Rs 400 crore was allocated to the programme. In 2011-12 Union budget , another Rs 400 crore was added allotted.