* Land under Kharif crop - 19.4 lakh hectares
* Rabi crop - 4.34 lakh hectares
* Production (2014-15) - 54.4 lakh metric tonne
* Mumai Tamuli Barbarua Krishak Bondhu scheme launched on experimental basis in Upper Assam
* Agriculture officers directed to sit at block offices to assist farmers
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Aug 6: Why has not Assam attained self-sufficiency in foodgrain production? The answer to this could lie in the fact that the Assam government has not been promoting rabi crop cultivation sufficiently in the State.
State Agriculture minister Rakibul Hussain today admitted that kharif crops (mainly xali paddy) are sown across 19.4 lakh hectares of crop land, while rabi crops are grown in the dry season in an area of only 4.34 lakh hectares.
"Rabi cropping is still not popular, especially in Upper Assam," Hussain told a press conference.
To promote rabi cropping, the government had in March this year launched the Mumai Tamuli Barbarua Krishak Bondhu scheme on experimental basis. The scheme is being executed in an area of 100 hectares spread across seven districts, mostly in Upper Assam.
The scheme, however, has landed in a controversy, following allegations of negligible crop yield at Timtimiya village in Jorhat.
Though Hussain said a probe has been ordered to verify the allegations, the minister claimed that a number of farmers at Timtimiya have reported "high yields". "For example, one Bhaba Xensua recorded a yield of over 1,173.2 kg/ hectare, while another Rudra Xensua recorded around 1,000 kg per hectare," Hussain said.
The State's agriculture director, however, pointed out that some farmers did not take proper pest control measures, which might have led to developing of grain-less paddy. Ten farmers were beneficiaries of the scheme in the village and they had cultivated an area of around 5 hectares. Acknowledging that the State farmers lacked assistance and support from government agriculture officers, the minister informed that from now on a room will be allotted at the block office for agriculture development officers and village level extension workers.
"There are reports that the government agriculture officers are not as visible in the grassroots as they should be. We have now chalked out a plan to make them go to the field and guide the farmers. The officers will have to sit at the rooms allotted to them at the 219 block offices and also visit the croplands and guide the farmers", he said.