As technology makes its way into every sphere of life, the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has also embraced technology, to make the life easier for farmers. Babubhai Bokhiria, Minister for Agriculture and Cooperation, Gujarat, in conversation with Sneha Mejari of Elets News Network (ENN), talks about how technology is impacting the traditional agriculture
As a Cabinet Minister for Agriculture and Cooperation, what initiatives have you undertaken for the growth of the sector?
The State Government of Gujarat has a complete agriculture-oriented approach. We have launched various schemes and announced several programmes which help farmers as well as the cooperative sector to grow. I would be proud to say that because of the support provided by the State Government, the farmers have started experimenting with new techniques and the cooperatives have started adopting technology. The budgetary allocation of `25 crore for the purpose in 2014-15 has been increased to `70 crore during the year 2015-16.
Elaborate on the schemes launched by the government in the agriculture sector.
Under the guidance of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Smt Anandiben Patel, propounding the cause of a progressive Gujarat, in a short span of four months, this Government has extended various benefits of more than `4,000 crore to the farmers. The relief package of `1,100 crore to the farmers is one of the largest given away so far.
We want the farmers to get reasonable and viable rates for farm produce, for which, in the current financial year, Rs 10 crore under the Agro Industrial Policy, `25 crore under the National Food Processing Mission and `2.52 crore under the Family Biogas Plant scheme have been announced by the State Government. Apart from this, the Seeds Corporation Ltd has implemented a godown construction scheme, for which `105 crore has been provided and an amount of `254.68 crore has been allocated for land and water conservation projects.
In order to support implementation of new farming techniques and help farmers buy new tractors, several schemes have been introduced by the government. Besides, plans like farmer accident policy, steps to minimise the risks involved in agriculture and organic farming policy have already been introduced to encourage the farming community here.
Under the guidance of Hon’ble Chief Minister Smt Anandiben Patel, in a short span of four months, this Government has extended various benefits of over `4,000 crore to the farmers. The relief package of `1,100 crore to the farmers is one of the largest given away so far
How do you plan to bridge the gap between the financial constraints of the people and the banks?
Farmers had taken short-term agricultural loans from different banks and the interest is still due to the banks. So, the State Government has decided to pay 50 per cent amount of the interest directly to the banks in order to provide relief to the farmers.
This year, over `2,929.08 crore has been allocated to the agriculture sector. Financial institutions have to consider the state-level rates of interest for loans sanctioned on production during the year 2014-15, as fixed by a state-level committee. Where the rates of interest on loan for unlisted items of production are not available, the ones fixed by the state level committee shall have to be considered. If the amount of loan exceeds the percentage of loan allowable, the sanctioned percentage of loan shall be taken into consideration and interest relief calculated thereupon.