Manipur CM Biren Singh
Manipur CM N Biren Singh (File photo)

Imphal: Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh on Wednesday virtually graced the distribution function of agricultural inputs like seeds, equipment, farm machineries and biofloc by Central Agricultural University, Imphal. The inputs were distributed to the farmers of different Northeast states through 13 constituent colleges of the university located at different parts of the region.

Taking to his Facebook page, the chief minister said the programme is not just about agricultural input distribution but also an act of showing solidarity with our farmers who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The distribution of agricultural inputs will improve the livelihood of our farmers through crop diversification,” he added.

The virtual function, ‘Community Empowerment Programme Through Technology Products’, was also joined from Itanagar by Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu as the guest of honour, MP Agatha Sangma from Tura, MP RK Ranjan and MP Lorho S Pfoze from Manipur, Tripura education minister Ratan Lal Nath, Mizoram veterinary minister K Beichhua and CAU vice-chancellor Anupam Mishra.

In all, 1,979 farmers from Manipur benefitted from the function. Rice, groundnut, soya bean, hybrid maize and fodder maize seeds were provided to 1,890 farmers. On the other hand, mini rice mills were handed over to nine farmers, kitchen grinder juicers to 20 farmers, sprayers to 35 farmers and biofloc units to 25 farmers.

Addressing the function from CM’s secretariat, Biren Singh stated that countries across the world and sectors across economies continue to reel under the adverse effects of the pandemic.

“However, in spite of the ongoing pandemic it is very heartening to learn that production of major crops for the year 2020-21 in India, as per the second advance estimates, revealed a record production of 303.34 million tonnes of food grains,” the chief minister said.

He added that it clearly outlines the tireless hard work and resilience of farmers, agricultural scientists, and farmer-friendly policies of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said that agriculture in India continues to be the main source of livelihood for more than half of Indians. However, farmers continue to face fundamental issues related to lack of information on farm inputs, unorganized credit, and the absence of market linkages.
In addition, the farmers of the North East region, being in a land-locked region with difficult terrain, faces unique challenges. These challenges also give way to huge untapped opportunities for innovation and technology in the sector, the chief minister observed.

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Maintaining that all-round agricultural reforms would benefit the country in the long run, Singh pointed out that emerging technologies would play a vital role in ensuring sustainability of the sector and empowering farmers. New technologies can empower farmers with real-time demand forecasting, price forecasting, moisture and nutrient levels of soil, he said and added that it can also provide sowing advisories to help farmers make the right crop and seed choices.

All these can ensure enhanced farm productivity and increased earnings, Singh further said while adding that online marketplaces like e-Mandis would also empower farmers. However, the success of digital transformation in Indian agriculture would depend significantly on effective dissemination of information and inputs to farmers, he observed.

In this regard, the chief minister said that the programme would go a long way towards bringing about awareness for such a transformation in the North East Region. He also lauded the varsity staff for voluntarily contributing one day salary to support the farmers of the NE region with technology products during these difficult times.

Singh also expressed hope that the Central Agricultural University would continue its exemplary contributions to agricultural and allied technical education in the region and the country. He also congratulated vice-chancellor Anupam Mishra and his team for their hard work and for organising the event.

During his speech, he also prayed for those who had been affected by the pandemic and wished one and all for best health and requested everyone to stay safe and maintain SOP.

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