Agriculture Minister of Uttarakhand Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat has introduced a new concept of Special Agriculture Zone (SAZ) to make farming a business of profit. Under this concept the farmers would be provided new technologies of farming and would be encouraged to adopt organic farming. Organiser representative Pramod Kumar spoke to him in New Delhi. Excerpts:
What are you doing to make the farming profitable?
We are very serious to make the farming a business of profit for our farmers. Unlike the blind race of creating more Special Economic Zones (SEZs), we are going to set up Special Agriculture Zones (SAZs) in the state to promote farming. It is being done to ensure that there is no lack of foodgrains in the state. The way SEZs are being promoted in various parts of the country, the problem of foodgrains is going to take a fatal turn and people would not get sufficient food in coming years. Farming would be done in a planned manner under the SAZs. Very shortly we are going to materialise this new concept. Several sites have already been identified for it. Only the crops that can easily be grown in that particular region will be promoted under such zones. It will help us stopping migration from the hill areas to the cities. One of the prime reasons of migration from the hill areas is that agriculture has not been profitable. We have to change this situation. Once we provide ample opportunities of employment to the rural youth in their villages, they will certainly stay in the villages and contribute in development of their state.
What is being done to promote organic farming?
We are promoting organic farming and the use of bio-pesticides at large scale. Keeping in view the growing side effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for both the human being and the fertility of soil, organic farming is the only remedy. Three years back the production of organic Basmati rice in Uttarakhand was limited to 2000 acres land. But now it has been increased at over 7,500 acres of land. The prices of organic Basmati rice, which were Rs 10 to 12 per kg, have now been enhanced to Rs 34 kg so that the growers get good profit. The organic wheat, which was earlier being sold at Rs 9 per kg, is now being sold at Rs 15.45 per kg to the ITC, which has signed MoU with the state government for three years. Our all efforts aim at turning the state into organic state. We have constituted an Organic Board also. We are not in favour of encouraging the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides at all.
What are you doing to preserve the Indian breed cows?
The scientists have proved that Indian breed cows are more useful than the corss-breed cows. The milk, dung and even the urine of Indian breed cows are highly useful. Keeping in view these facts we are going to collect at least 100 Indian breed cows from the state. Two special zones are being developed to upgrade them so that they could give good quantity of milk. In coming days such more special zones will be created at various places of the state and people as well as the voluntary organisations will be encouraged to help the government in this endeavour.
We have taken many steps in the state to prove that rearing cow is always a business of profit. It is important source of income and an enterprise, which enables economically backward and landless rural people to earn income. We are promoting the use of cow dung as manure in the fields. We are also working on extracting methane gas from the cow dung and converting it into liquid form so that it could be filled into cylinders. This experiment is going on in Rajasthan where it was used in car as fuel on experiment basis. For further research, we are going to establish a Govigyan Prodyogiki Sansthan in Rishikesh.
What is your basic objective?earning revenue from the cow based industries or providing employment to youth in rural areas?
Earning revenue has never been our objective. Our prime objective is to preserve the cow and her progeny. The declining number of cattle is leaving very adverse effect on the agriculture, environment and the health of people. We want to provide employment to women and the unemployed youth in villages.
What is being done to prevent the supply of cows to slaughter houses?
This is a fact that cow slaughter will not be checked just by staging demonstrations, conducting rallies and delivering speeches. Something concrete has to be done for it.
Uttarakhand is the first state in the country, which has banned the slaughter of cow and her progeny completely. Anyone violating the law is punished strictly. We have taken effective steps to prevent the transportation of the govansh out of the state. We are educating people to help the government agencies if they found the govansh being transported out of the state and people inform us time to time. We are also setting up gosadans where the cows, which do not give milk, can be kept. We are taking the help of some NGOs for it. If an NGO wishes to set up any gosadan in the state, the government would provide land as well as monitory help.
Do you have plans to promote bioproducts?
Yes, we are going to promote bio products. We wish to promote cow-based industries in rural areas of the state. Today our scientists are able to produce 136 kinds of useful products from the cow urine and dung. We wish to promote it.