Assam agriculture dreams big

Markets to better farmers’ income

Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar interacts with Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi while agriculture minister Pramila Rani Brahma looks on in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by Eastern Projections

Guwahati, Oct. 2 : Dispur has decided to set up a terminal market to provide multiple choices to farmers to sell their produce directly to exporters, processors and retail chain networks under a single roof.

Agriculture minister Pramila Rani Brahma told reporters on the sidelines of a two-day conference on Agriculture: Strategies, Policy and Practice for the Northeast here today that the government had identified a 200-bigha plot at Amingaon for the proposed terminal market complex (TMC) which would be set up at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore.
“The market will increase the farmers’ income by shortening the supply chain, offer transparency in market transactions, fix prices and provide cold storage facilities so that farmers can trade at a future date. It will thus offer multiple trade choices to the farmers,” Brahma said.
She said the terminal market would act as a competitive alternative agricultural marketing platform and extract better service and efficiency from traditional markets, contributing to overall improvement in marketing activities.
The minister said there have been allegations that middlemen take farmers for a ride and give them minimal return on their produce. The proposed market will enable consumers and producers to make direct contact and thus facilitate the development of products that are closely aligned with consumer tastes and demands, she added.
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who attended the conference on the concluding day today, said his ministry had emphasised improving marketing infrastructure in the region and had earmarked Rs 380 crore towards this end.
“An additional Rs 300 crore has also been allotted for setting up rural godowns in every state of the region. Funds will not be a constraint,” he promised. Pawar said his ministry was keen to ensure food security in the region and improve the quality of life of farmers. He said the ministry had taken the initiative in consultation with the state governments to make tailormade plans for each state, keeping in view their distinct physiography, topography, climatic and soil conditions.
He said the ministry would meet every six months to assess the agriculture scenario in the region, to initiate corrective steps and to step up production in a big way.
“The region is endowed with enormous potential in the agri-horti and other allied sectors and these have to be tapped to the optimum level to step up production in a big way,” Pawar said, adding that the region could act as a catalyst towards ushering in a second green revolution in the country.
He said his ministry would focus on agriculture and allied sectors like dairy, livestock, animal husbandry and fishery to tap the region’s abundant potential and harness the high-value aromatic and medicinal plants and the wide variety of orchids available in the region for both domestic and international markets.
Pawar also spoke of toning up the Indian Agriculture Research Institute at Barapani in Meghalaya.