ON the invitation of state Chief Minister I visted Gujarat in last week of May. Soon after reaching Gandhinagar I met the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi and discussed with him his people-centric and growth oriented efforts. He was immensely happy about the participation and cooperation of the common people in all his endeavours. I told him that my visit is mainly to study about the state of farmers, agriculture, poor people, village development, eradication of poverty and improved conditions of the people of the state.
He sent a team of very important persons along with me. We went around various parts of Gujarat and met ordinary farmers, village youths, politicians, scholars and various sections of people. It was an illuminating experience. I remembered Pt Deendayalji’s writing in his political diary. He used to write that our intention may be good. We may evolve a good policy and even give an effective plan of action. It will be successful only when all the participants conceive it in all its dimensions and execute it thoroughly, then only it can be accomplished in the real sense. Shri Narendra Modi and his team have created innovative ideas into new development models and for all other states to follow their successful initiatives.
First, we went to a village called Fotiwada in Sabarkantha District to inaugurate a Krishi Mahotsava. It is a month long pre-mansoon campaign for encouraging scientific farming practices. Normally, farmers travel upto tehsil or district level agricultural officers to know about the government help in land and farm management. Whereas in Gujarat, officers move in the villages and make themselves available to the farmers. It is an integrated approach that includes farming practices, soil and water conservation, credit availability and marketing linkages.
As soon as we reached the village, I was invited by Dr Amit Patel, a scientist belonging to Sardar Agricultural University. There were a gathering of two hundred villagers. There was a tehsildar, district agricultural officer, horticultural officer, animal husbandry officer, cooperative bank officer, forest officer, patwari and a host of village officials. I inaugurated the exhibition and spoke among the people in Hindi. Krishi Rath is a tractor-driven mobile exhibition that move from village to village showing the latest farming practices, value addition opportunities, innovative technologies through paintings and Powerpoint presentations. The Rath halts for four hours at each village and a Kisan Sabha is organised where agriculture scientist and other experts interact with the farmers, imparting them knowledge, educating them about the various challenges, problems and solutions, resolving their queries and also receiving the feedback. There are about two hundred and twenty seven Krishi Raths that cover 18 thousand villages of Gujarat. In fact, these Kisan Mahotsavas bring together the knowledgeable agro-scientist and other expertise with the local farmers at the grass roots level. It is a knowledge river that flows into the villages to enrich the farmers. Because of this wonderful initiative, not a single farmer is committing suicide in Gujarat.
A major programme of testing and analysing the health of soil is going on in all the villages of Gujarat. Through the soil testing, farmers are made to know the quality of their soil, ideal crop input mix for their soil, based on the data collected. The government issues soil health cards to the farmers. These cards contain details of soil analysis with recommendation for usage of right kind of fertilizers and seeds. Lakh of soil samples are collected and scientifically analysed and reports are prepared. More than 25 lakh cards have been given to the farmers.
The state machinery is geared up to go to villages, meet the farmers, understand their problems and make available all governmental facilities. Slowly and steadily miseries of farmers are removed. It is a hard work of about one lakh government personnel at all levels from fifteen departments, banking personnels, members of cooperative societies, members of milk unions, members of input agencies like fertilizers, pesticides and seeds. It is a festival of activities varying from distribution of free fertilizer kits to the BPL farmers, animal vaccination, creation of self-help groups, etc.
Gujarat farmers got a new perspective and broader vision owing to these mass campaigns. Gujarat celebration of agriculture has received appreciation from the central Planning Commission and also by Dr M S Swaminathan, eminent agricultural scientist in the country. In total Gujarat has done a miracle in agriculture. It has brought a successful smile on the faces of the farmers.
(The writer can be contacted at [email protected])