*Agriculture blueprint from May
*6am-6pm call centre on the anvil
GUWAHATI: The State government will release an initial amount of Rs 4.70 crore for the agriculture farmers affected during the lockdown so that they can go for small-scale farming at least on their respective household farming patches.
Informing this to the media here on Monday, State Minister for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary, Atul Bora further stated, “Health is the top priority at this crisis period. Our steps are means to ensure that people’s lives are saved in the first place. But, the prevailing and emerging situations arising out of coronavirus have forced the government to take several stringent measures.”
Minister Bora also said that along with various stakeholders, the Agriculture department is preparing a blueprint to be implemented from May onwards. The State government will also buy rice from the State farmers. Further, Dispur is also mulling a 12-hour call centre to help the distressed farmers from 6 am to 6 pm. The call centre’s number will be announced later.
The Minister added that “with the increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases across the State, the Assam government had been compelled to give a rethink about the lockdown relaxations that were earlier announced for the cultivators. As of now, the government is planning to gradually allow the farmers to partially go for agriculture work. But the peasants will have to maintain social distancing and strictly follow all guidelines of the Health department.
“The Agriculture sector has suffered along with the other sectors, this year. Its rippling effect will be felt across the rural areas. As a result, contribution of this sector to the State’s economy will diminish to a great extent. I’m sorry about the loss of the farmers.
“I have already taken up the matter with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. We’ll discuss the ways to compensate the farmers in our Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. I shall raise similar issues related to also the animal husbandry and dairy sectors.”
The Minister further said, “Among the worst sufferers due to the lockdown are the local entrepreneurs involved particularly in the broiler chicken industry. Even the hatchery owners had to kill the one-day chickens as there is no means to supply these chickens to the broiler farms.
“Though the Government of India’s direction was to keep the meat shops open during the lockdown period yet the Government of Assam had to take a tougher stand to stop the spread of coronavirus. So, all meat shops have been closed for now.”
On the issue of vegetable shortage in some parts across Assam, the Minister said, “The DCs will take decisions on the supply of vegetables depending on the respective local conditions.” He, however, pointed out, “This decision has been taken owing to reports that some people in a few districts are not allowing the transportation of vegetables from other districts. Nevertheless, door-to-door supply of vegetables during the lockdown time is being carried out at many areas in the State.”