Arunachal seeking policy for farmland expansion: Taki

ITANAGAR, 31 Jul: Arunachal at present requires “a policy with fencing provision” for area expansion for large-scale crop cultivation, Agriculture Minister Tage Taki said during a webinar conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on Saturday.

“The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is aware of our state’s financial condition. We have limited funds and cannot afford large-scale fencing,” said Taki while highlighting the dearth of grazing land, due to which animals have started to encroach on farms.

“Whenever there is agriculture, horticulture and allied department planning and programming underway, they should keep in mind to undertake separate policy formulation for hilly areas, which includes states like Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and

Himachal Pradesh, for agro-based expansion,” he said.

The minister said that the current policies under which farmers are being imparted skills are more suitable for large states such as Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and others. “For hilly regions such as Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and others, there need to be special interventions.”

Stating that the Arunachal government is facing various issues in implementing the agriculture sector-related policies of the Centre, Taki said, “About 60 percent of the government of India’s budgeting system for the agriculture sector is for post-harvest activities, whereas here we need about 80 percent of budget for area expansion.”

He further said that currently, whatever agriculture production is being done in Arunachal is mainly for self-consumption. “Unless there is large-scale cultivation, we cannot go for exports, and for that we need to perk up post-harvest infrastructure, which includes setting up cold storages and collection centres.”

Speaking about the new policy of the state government, Taki said: “This year, in our agriculture department, we have implemented a new policy – ‘one district, one product’ – for large-scale production as part of the government of India’s clarion call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat, and we are getting support from the NABARD.”

He urged the industry to help the state get organic certificates for its organic produces from the government of India.

Talking about the state’s agriculture potential, Taki said that “Arunachal can produce the world’s most exotic fruits and medicinal plants to cater to the entire world’s requirements” and help bring down import bills of edible oil.

NABARD Deputy General Manager BP Mishra enumerated the various funds and schemes that are being provided, even though there are plenty of challenges like transportation, lack of post-harvest infrastructure, etc, that are being faced by the farmers in Arunachal.

“NABARD on its part is providing funds to the farmers in the state to increase the productivity, so that they can fetch better prices and market their produces in a better way,” said Mishra.

Sharing his perspective, the ASSOCHAM’s Northeast Regional Council Chairman Mahendra Agarwal said, “Lack of infrastructure is one of the biggest bottlenecks in the development of agriculture in the state. Availability of adequate credit for agriculture operation is also a major concern faced by the state’s farmers. The government has launched several schemes to promote agriculture in the state, and the industry will work in tandem with the authorities to realize the state’s agriculture potential.”