Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday said the main focus of the state's agriculture road map is on increasing income of farmers and ensuring sustainable development of the sector. He also assured farmers of providing them minimum support price (MSP) with 50 per cent additional incentive.
"Kisano ki aamdani mein vriddhi karna hamara lakshya hai (Our target is to increase the income of farmers)," Nitish Kumar said while addressing "Kisan Samagam" after a day-long meeting with hundreds of farmers from across the state in the newly-constructed International Convention Centre — Gyan Bhawan — here.
Nitish Kumar said farmers and agriculture had been his priority for nearly a decade. "I will do everything to help the farmers increase their income and will provide other helps to ensure development of the agriculture sector in Bihar."
At a time when farmers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states have been protesting demanding loan waiver and other issues, Nitish Kumar chose to spend nearly eight hours listening to suggestions of farmers over the draft of "Third Agriculture Road Map 2017-22".
He sat on the floor with farmers to show his concern for them. This gesture of the Chief Minister was well taken by the farmers.
Nitish Kumar said 76 per cent of Bihar's population was dependent on agriculture for livelihood. "We have to increase income of the farmers by ensuring that they get right price for their produce."
He noted that income of the farmers of state had increased in the last few years as the productivity had gone up. "For us, farmers are not only those who own land… All those who work in agriculture field are farmers including landless farm labourers."
Unlike in the past, starvation-like situation was not there in the villages, he asserted.
The Chief Minister claimed that Bihar had recorded growth and improvement in agriculture sector since first agriculture road map was implemented for 2008-12, followed by second for 2012-17. "Our rice, wheat, maize, potato and vegetables production have remarkably increased."
"Now we have prepared the draft of the Third Agriculture Road Map for Bihar. We have invited hundreds of farmers from all the 38 districts of the state to provide them opportunity to make suggestions on it. We have listened to their suggestions carefully and would consider their views and suggestions while finalising the road map," he said.
Organic farming is one of the focus areas of the agriculture road map. "We will promote organic farming and help farmers go for it in areas along the river Ganga for protection of the environment."
Reminding of his opposition to GM seeds, he said that his government would not allow it in Bihar, because it was against the interest of the farmers and not god for environment.
Nitish Kumar said that despite all his efforts, there were many challenges in the agriculture sector, with the biggest of them being that of maintaining land records.
The Chief Minister underlined that the country was passing through an agrarian crisis. "Its main cause is that farmers' income is low and they are not getting the right price for their produce."
He also questioned the Narendra Modi-led central government's failure to implement the MSP with 50 per cent additional incentive for farmers.
Criticising the crop insurance scheme, he said it was not aimed to benefit farmers, rather it was to benefit the insurance companies.