Guwahati: In view of the economic slowdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal held a meeting with the recently constituted economic advisory committee under the chairmanship of retired IAS officer Subhas Das at Brahmaputra State Guest House in Guwahati on Thursday.
Sonowal stressed that agriculture and allied sectors have a lot of potential to generate employment opportunities and bring about faster economic dividends. He also highlighted on the need to provide market linkage to farmers while assuring them of minimum guaranteed price for their produce. Lack of market linkage could in turn de-motivate the farmers, especially young generation farmers and, therefore, it was necessary to make sure farmers’ products were not wasted in the farms.
The chief minister approached the advisory group to give suggestions to smooth out production-procurement-marketing chain so that a road map can be set up for accomplishing market sustainability for the farmers. Augmentation of cold storage and other such facilities was of great importance in these trying times and the board must showcase their proposals in such matter, he added.
The minister also stressed on the importance of making the state self-reliant in sectors like fisheries, livestock, fruit cultivation, dairy farming etc. through strategic interventions. “Every crisis brings opportunity,” he said, adding that the youths of Assam returning from outside must be empowered to live a life of dignity through self-employment opportunities and agriculture and its allied sectors can play a very important role in this. “Assam has the potential to capture the markets of neighbouring countries with its agricultural products,” he added.
Citing his experience of visiting Vietnam, the chief minister elaborated on the practice of value addition to food products in Vietnam. He urged the economic advisory committee members to devise strategies for economic resurgence by creating a model which reaches the grass roots through the panchayats. He also informed that 58,000 SHGs in the state earned more than Rs 900 crore by engaging in livestock business last year alone.
Alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who led the Central government’s plans for the farmers like Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yoajana, giving Rs 5,000 as a monetary help to the farmers, etc, the chief minister said every one of these plans were propelled with the intent to double the farmers’ salary. He encouraged the advisory group to give suggestions for the appropriate execution of the same. He additionally said that the current emergency has brought an open door for uncovering the middle men from the framework and connect with the local youths in agricultural products distribution. He said, “Unless and until the society did not give respect to the farmers, young generation could not be encouraged to take up farming.”