Interview of the week
CHHATTISGARH, the 26th state of the Indian Union came into existence in November 2000. It is primarily an agrarian state, with about 80 per cent of the population engaged in agriculture; in fact the central plains of Chhattisgarh are known as the ‘rice bowl of central India’. With 44 per cent of its area under forests it is one of the richest bio-diversity hotspots in the country
Shri Chandrasekhar Sahu is the minister responsible for agriculture, livestock, fisheries and labour in the state. In an interview with Organiser correspondent Ashish Joshi, he discusses, among various issues, the ambitious plans the government of Chhatisgarh has taken for maximising agricultural production in the state.
What is the status of agri zones in Chhattisgarh.
Chhattisgarh primarily has 3 distinct zones with immense potential for agriculture. The Bastar Plateau, which includes districts, such as Bastar, Dantewada and Beejapur. Then it has northern parts called “Northern Hilly Regions”. The third part is made up of the districts of Bilaspur, Raipur, Janjgeer-Champa, Korba, and parts of Kanker.
What steps is the government taking to boost agriculture in the state?
We feel that use of improved agricultural equipment can increase crop production by 15-20 per cent. At present there are about 11 tractors per 1000 hectares of net sown area as compared to the national average of 28 tractors per 1000 hectares. The long term potential for tractors in the state, including replacement of old tractors, is assessed at 4.10 lakh.
We provide custom-hiring facilities to cultivators at reasonable rates, as small and marginal farmers cannot afford to purchase costly machines like tractors/bulldozers, and newly developed machines, such as the Rotavator, Roto-seed drill, sugarcane cutter planter, etc.
Some of our projects include the Krishi Yantra Seva Kendra scheme, the Shakambhri scheme, under which 75 per cent subsidy is given on diesel/electric/kerosene/openwell submersible pump sets (upto 5HP) and 50 per cent on dug wells to small and marginal farmers. A new scheme of demonstration on transplanting by Paddy Transplanter has been taken up since 2012-13 under RKVY. Under this scheme, a subsidy of Rs 3,000 per acre is provided to farmers for a package of land preparation, raising mat type nursery and transplanting by Paddy Transplanter in a cluster of 4 hectares.
Are the farmer’s happy in your state?
Popularisation of mechanisation is an important issue at GoI. level and number of different Crop wise Schemes like Macro Management Work Plan, ISOPOM for popularising improved Bullock/Tractor drawn implements, Power tiller, tractors and hand tools etc. under subsidy are being implemented in the State. The state Govt gives an additional subsidy of 10-25 per cent on Power tiller and other agricultural implements and machines under Balram Krishi Yantrikikaran Protsahan Yojnna.
The farmers are free to select the machines/ implements and buy them either from CG State Beej evam Krishi Vikas Nigam or private suppliers registered in the Department.
In order to supply good quality agricultural implements to the farmers, a State Level Agricultural Implement Testing Centre has been established at Raipur. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation, GoI, has approved this testing centre.
Have the schemes made a big change?
We have ambitious plans to develop agriculture in the state. We have embarked on a concerted plan to increase double cropped areas, diversify the cropping pattern and improve incomes from agro-based small-scale enterprises. In the 11th plan, we are planning to increase rice area, production and productivity by 1 per cent, 31 per cent and 133 per cent respectively in kharif. For pulses and oilseeds an increase of 30 and 60 per cent area and 58 per cent and 101 per cent in production is targeted respectively. We are also thinking of bringing an area of 1.04 lakh hectares under assured irrigation for the 11th plan.
This time we are also paying special attention towards better management of Chhatisgah’s water resources. To reduce farmers’ dependence on rainfall, government is working towards increasing the irrigation potential of the state. We are looking to irrigate approximately 43 lakh hectares, which can cover 75 per cent of the entire cropped area in the state.
Some of the major irrigation projects we have undertaken in the state include Ravi Shankar Sagar Mahanadi project, Hasdeo-Bango, Kodar, etc.