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Assam braces to ward off locust invasion
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, June 1 - Assam is now bracing to ward off the attack of marauding swarms of locusts, which have already wreaked havoc on vast stretches of crop land in the country.

Agriculture Minister Atul Bora on Monday told the media that he has already instructed the Assam Agriculture University (AAU) to chalk out a plan to minimize the loss in the event of a locust attack in the territory of Assam.

The minister made the statement after a meeting with agriculture scientists, senior officials of various departments including NABARD, NERAMAC, AAPRT, etc. Bora said the meeting was the first step towards formulating a future roadmap to strengthen the agri and allied sectors of Assam.

Bora said to provide direct benefit to the farmers and to eliminate the middlemen from the market, his department is planning to register all the farmer vendors soon.

Notably in the first days of the lockdown, the State Government deployed over 5,000 farmer vendors in the State to minimize the loss of farmers. The step was taken after Assam faced a loss of around Rs 40.8 crore in the agriculture and horticulture sectors during the first phase of lockdown.

Bora said the government is also thinking to deploy the same type of vendors in veterinary and animal husbandry sectors too.

“This medical emergency has taught us a good lesson. Now we need to emphasize more on the agri and allied sectors. For which we have to produce market-suitable products in the coming days,” Bora said.

He asserted that if the agri-scientists of Assam start working with the farmers in the field, then a drastic positive change will come soon. Citing the issue of migrant workers who have already returned to their home place during the lockdown, the minister said that the government is planning to engage the work force in various sectors including bee-keeping, mushroom cultivation, etc.

“Now we aim to attract our new generation to the agri and allied sectors. For this, we will chalk out some short-term and long-term plans soon. As part of the move, we are emphasizing more on multi-cropping and crop diversification. Again, to provide bank loans to farmers, a committee will come in every district and a State Committee has been formed under the leadership of Commissioner of the Agriculture Production department, which will monitor the entire process. For the purpose, the NABARD will soon open 25 knowledge centres in different locations of Assam. NABARD also assured to help us in setting up slaughterhouses in the State,” he said.

He further informed that in the process of beneficiaries’ name re-verification in PM-KISHAN scheme, already 8, 19,000 names have been deleted from the database and more such names will be deleted in the coming days.

Moreover, the needy and actual beneficiaries will avail benefits under the scheme after completion of the re-verification and inquiry. Citing that around 16,000 pigs have died in African Swine Flu so far, Bora stated that Centre has already agreed to bear 50 per cent share to compensate the affected pig farmers during the time of culling.

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