Caring for Farming Population in Assam: Some Pertinent Issues

We all know that Assam is an Agrarian state with a total population of 3.12 crore where the percentage of rural and urban population are 86 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
Caring for Farming Population in Assam: Some Pertinent Issues

Hemchandra Saikia


We all know that Assam is an Agrarian state with a total population of 3.12 crore where the percentage of rural and urban population are 86 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. Insofar as the dependency of population on agricultural and allied activities is concerned, 75% of State's population is directly or indirectly dependent on these activities for their livelihood. Of the rural population, Assam has 27.2 lakh farming households. Of our total farming population; 85.59% farm households are marginal and small -- whose size of operational holding ranges from less than 1 ha to 2 ha. But A very crucial element of the agricultural production system is the food-security front. Without this there will be a chaos in the agricultural cultivation or production process. The resultant effect will shortage of food supply or famine. That means the farming population is a very integral part of our entire agricultural-production system -- right from starting the crop cultivation process to production and the subsequent vital step so the produce reaches the ultimate consumers. Therefore development of this entire system is very crucial to build an inclusive developed society in our State.

There are some critical areas of intervention to initiate the desired changes in socio-economic life of our esteemed farming population. A few key ones are listed below:

It must be ensured that there is adoption of all suitable and profit-yielding improved technologies in due space and time. This will enhance production and productivity. It si possible only with better production and marketing of all valued-added products that too in a very sizable quantum. There must be marketable surplus and the entire moves must be capable of capturing both the domestic and the external markets. This will serve the purposes of enhancing farm income and profit. Obviously, it will improve better standard of living in the society. But in order to have these benefits on the ground, the technologies must be easily available, accessible, acceptable and profitable. Simultaneously such technologies must not have any impact on the environment.

Another essential thing is the sensitization or motivation of the farming population about the need to adopt all suitable technologies in the right time and place. Remunerative agriculture always requires ideal locations and use of time-specific suitable technologies. The mindset of our farming population should be dovetailed so that they can welcome the new changes. They must be provided the modern farming knowledge and also enthused to adopt all the suitable new technologies. This joint move will enhance their total farm income and profit and also help in harnessing and embracing the various factors of surrounding environment. The targeted population should automatically become pro-active and dynamic in all the decision-making stages in the field of all agricultural production process. In this instance, both institutional and non-intuitional effective collective and community efforts are needed. Awareness and sensitization programmes have the proven capacity to yield the desired results amidst the members of our farming society. Without adequate and timely awareness and sensitization efforts, the right kind of suitable, accessible and profitable proven technologies may not penetrate into our farming society. Our efforts must ensure that technologies are used in the right time and place. The technologies should be replaced at a recommended interval time to boost the productivity level. There must be concurrent suitable and timely crop cultivation or production-related operational measures like inter-cultural operations, irrigation and weeding at critical stages, fertility management, pest and disease control or management measures for maintaining good health of crop or agricultural activities. To boost its productivity and production there is a need for introducing very efficient marketing measures. Ensuring regular need-bases agro-advisories and skill development training to our farming population on a very accessible and effective manner can be the catalyst to enhance farm income and profit. Such coordinated proactive roles of all the stakeholders will pave the path for the all-round development of our farming population.

Pooling of resources of all kinds and running of agricultural activities in a very economic and cooperative manner with the true element of commercialization with profit motive may empower our small and marginal farming population to a very viable unit with rising economies of scale and returns to scale. So doing agricultural activities on business mode in a very effective cooperative mode like the 'Farmers Producers Organization' or the 'Farmer Producers Company' may properly steer the economy of our esteemed farming population in the right direction. Then the farmers can have both enhanced remuneration and respect in our society with a very desirable standard of living. So the ongoing efforts of both the Central and State governments to establish and run FPOs or FPCs in every district is a very appreciable and effective fruit- yielding endeavour. Because this will result in economies of scale in several areas like mechanization, modernization, input purchase, output production, harvest marketing, processing and value addition, storage, transportation. Also it will result in suitable market integration and in the process the economy of our rural farming population will have the capacity to grow at a very desirable and sustainable rate.

Establishing and ensuring effective infrastructure of suitable and need-bases like irrigation, electricity, warehouses, and cold storage among others have the capacity to enhance farm production and productivity with better amount of profits. There must be facilitation of higher cropping intensity, higher economic activities, value addition and efficient mode of marketing. Regular showcasing and demonstration of all the suitable proven technologies can pave the way to mass adoption of these technologies. These moves will ensure better and sustainable desirable production and income besides retaining our farming population in agricultural occupation in future.

Implementation of all government schemes or plan of agricultural development in right time and places is also very crucial where selection of beneficiaries need error free and ensuring benefits to right persons will definitely encourage enhance production and profit to our total economy. Again ensuring adequate financial support, market support and price support at a very easy, accessible and affordable way in right time may result enhance farm income and profit. But it is very essential on the part of loanee farmers to repay their loans in right time so that both banker and borrower have a very respectable win-win position. And if it happens so then it will encourage more economies of activities in our economy of our farming population.

The critical role of smallholder farmers are always realized at local, national and international perspectives. This section of the farming population has the potential to properly boost food security across the world. So the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations also that more than 33% of world's food is produced by our smallholder farmers despite their challenges like poverty, lack of access to finance, training and technology. Against this backdrop, there is an urgent need to empower our smallholder farmers with all support in due quantity, quality and also at the right time.

All such steps that need to brought into the general farming population include making accessible the due logistic support to the right persons, creating awareness and sensitization the rural farming population about the need to adopt the improved technologies, creating an environment for ushering in the desirable changes of mindset. They must be guided towards the right direction of technologies; they must adopt, understand and also shoulder the responsibilities of the farming community. Such economic activities are essentially joint and coordinated efforts of all players of the rural economy. These efforts should be on a very collective, cooperative and economic business mode. Definitely, such endeavours have the potential to ensure the all-round development of our esteemed farming population.

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