The West Bengal government has been able to distribute soil health cards among only two per cent of the 72 lakh farmers in the state, but has assured to complete the task by March, 2017, Union Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh said on Monday.
“There are 72 lakh farmers in West Bengal, of which only two per cent have been given soil health cards,” he told mediapersons here after a stock-taking meeting with the state’s agriculture department officers.
“The speed of distribution is slow, but the state government has assured that it will be able to complete the task by March, 2017, the deadline fixed to complete the project,” he said.
The Narendra Modi government at the Centre had launched the soil health card scheme in February, 2015 with the objective to issue the soil cards to about 14 crore farmers spread all over India.
The cards carry crop wise recommendations of nutrients or fertilizers required for farms, making it possible for farmers to improve productivity by using appropriate inputs.
With regard to bringing uniformity in the rules and regulations for bringing all ‘mandis’ (markets) across the country under ‘one nation one mandi’ scheme for the benefit of farmers, the Union Minister said, “We have requested the West Bengal government to bring changes in laws for setting up of e-mandis and linking it to the national e-mandi platform. We will provide financial and technological assistance and I am happy that the state government has agreed to it.” He added that the Agriculture Ministry intends to connect 585 mandis across the country by March 2018 under the scheme.
Singh said that he had appealed to all state governments to bring in three changes in the law regarding procurement of produce from farmers — e-trading, a one-point single levy system and a single licence practice.
Under schemes targetting development of indigenous breeds in Bengal, such as National Gokul Mission and National Programme for Bovine Breeding (NPBB), projects costing Rs 29.8 crore were sanctioned and a sum of Rs 8.5 crore was released by the Centre, he said.
However, utilisation certificates of Rs 4 crore from the state government were yet to be received, Singh pointed out, adding that the state has also not sent any proposal under the National Dairy Development Scheme in the last two years.
Praising the state’s fishery division, Singh said the state needed to pull up its socks in the dairy department. Milk production per animal in the state is 44 per cent less in comparison with the average production across the country and thus more milch bearing species are required to increase production of milk, the minister said.
He noted that Rs 1.37 crore was unspent by the state from the funds granted in 2014-15 under National Livestock Mission. “I understand that it was election year here but it would be better if the money sanctioned is spent in that year itself rather than carrying it forward to the next one,” Singh said.