.........BHUBANESWAR: Claiming that Odisha has made rapid strides in agriculture sector, the State Government on Tuesday said the per capita income of farmers has increased by four times, foodgrains production is expected to touch 118 lakh tonnes during the year while farm loan stood at Rs 15534.23 crore.
However, Minister for Agriculture, Farmersí Empowerment, Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Damodar Rout, who gave a detailed account of the achievement of the State Government in the sector during the last three years, was conspicuously silent on the issue of farmersí suicide leading to strong criticism from both the BJP and Congress.
Rout, who had courted controversy several times in the past for his comments on farmersí suicide and their use of agricultural loan, said per capita income of farmers has increased from Rs 1,062 per month in 2002-2003 to Rs 4,976 now. The Minister said Odisha has received the Krishi Karmana Samman four times during the last five years because of spectacular increase in foodgrains production.
Agriculture cabinet has been constituted to decide on policy and programmes for the sector. The State Government has also renamed the department as agriculture and farmersí empowerment, Rout said.
For the first time, paddy production has crossed one crore tonnes. Paddy productivity has also increased to 2,438 kg per hectare which is more than the national average of 2,404 kg. Irrigation potential for 54.74 lakh hectares has been created (for both rabi and kharif cultivation) in 2015-16, Rout said and added that agriculture budget has also increased to Rs 14,930 crore in 2017-18 from Rs 13,182 in 2016-17.
Farmers, who repay loans of Rs 50,000 regularly, are getting the benefit of one per cent interest rate from 2015-16. Five members of a farmerís family are also eligible for health insurance of Rs one lakh. So far, health insurance of Rs 195.45 crore has been provided to 3,91,838 farmers, he said.
There has also been a three-fold increase in fish production from 2.6 lakh tonnes in 2000-2001 to 6.08 lakh tonnes in 2016-17. Besides, 2711 pucca houses have been provided to fishermen during the last three years, Rout said and added that rest of the beneficiaries will be covered in phases.
While milk production has increased to 20.02 lakh tonnes, export of prawn has reached 35,612 tonnes amounting to Rs 1792 crore in 2016-17, Rout added.
Congress seeks waiver of loans
Bhubaneswar: Alleging that both the Centre and State Government have neglected the agriculture sector and farmers, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Tuesday demanded waiver of loans of small farmers. The BJP had come to power by promising to implement the recommendation of Swaminathan Committee report for fixing minimum support price (MSP) of paddy. But why has the promise not been kept? asked OPCC general secretary and spokesperson Sulochana Das.
Das alleged that both BJP and BJD are responsible for the current plight of farmers in the State as both the parties were in power in Odisha for nine years as alliance partners.
Criticising the Government for its failure to open a model mandi in the State even after 17 years, she sought to know what steps have been taken to stop distress sale of onion and other vegetables. She demanded that the State Government should admit that loan burden and crop loss are the causes behind suicides by farmers and give compensation to their families.
Criticising the Government for not acting on the announcement to create additional irrigation potential for 10 lakh hectares of agriculture land, Das wanted to know what steps have been taken to identify sharecroppers.