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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Importance of liquid Bio-fertilizers in Soil Health Management


                                                                               -By Amanda Shylla, Phd
Bio-fertilizers are an integral part of the organic farming for the plants to obtain nutrients, same way as in conventional agriculture where chemical fertilizers are used for plant nutrition. Due to heavy usage of chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides on the crops, sustainability of the agriculture systems collapsed, cost of cultivation soared at a high rate, income of farmers stagnated and food security and safety became a daunting challenge. Indiscriminate and imbalanced use of chemical fertilizers, especially urea, along with chemical pesticides and unavailability of organic manures has led to considerable reduction in soil health. Therefore, organic farming is a potential alternative solution to feed the world population.
Organic farming is not an alien to the North Eastern region. The small and marginal farmers of Meghalaya have been practicing organic farming in the form of traditional farming and Jhum cultivation since time immemorial. By doing so they used organic fertilizers like compost (which are food for the microorganisms) to replenish the soil, this method is time consuming and slow. In this modern world with more demand of organic product and more mouth to feed, there is a need to use agriculturally important microbial inoculants that will enrich the soil in a short period of time and increase the overall productivity in a sustainable and eco-friendlier way. 
Bio-fertilizers contain carrier based (liquid or solid) agriculturally important microorganisms. The farmers in our State due to lack awareness and the shortcomings of solid bio-fertilizers are skeptical in adopting the use of agriculturally important microorganisms. To overcome this problem scientist has developed liquid carrier bio-fertilizers which is more effective than the solid carrier. Liquid Bio-fertilizers are a special liquid formulation containing not only the agriculturally important microorganisms and their nutrients, but also special cell protectants or substances that encourage the formation of resting spores or cysts for longer shelf life and tolerance to adverse conditions.
 
         Role of Liquid Bio-fertilizers in various crops:
§  Enhances soil health and fertility
§  Increase crop yield.
§  Shorten the time of replenishing the soil in Jhum cultivation, hence net cultivated land can be increased.
§  Reduce the need for chemical N, P, K fertilizers.
§  Returns are economically viable
§  Besides the major nutrients, additional advantages like secretion of plant growth hormones and made available the important micronutrient like Zn, Mn, Cu, Fe, Co.
§  Diseases and pest occurrence reduced due to the antagonistic properties of the biofertilizers.        
§  Advantages of Liquid Bio-fertilizers over conventional carrier-based Bio-fertilizers:
§  Longer shelf life 12-24 months.
§  No contamination.
§  No loss of properties due to storage up to 45oC.
§  No effect of high temperature.
§  Greater potentials to fight with native populations.
§  The high population can be maintained more than 109 cells/ml up to 12-24 months.
§  Better survival on seeds and soil.
§  Easy to be used by the farmer.
§  Dosage is 10 times less than carrier powder based bio-fertilizers.

      Types of Liquid Bio-fertilizers available in the market:

A. Nitrogen fixers:
1) Rhizobial bio-fertilizers:
·         Rhizobial bio-fertilizers contain Rhizobium spp. which are bacteria that occur in free living state in the soil but can fix atmospheric nitrogen only in an obligate symbiotic (strict) association with leguminous plants forming nodules in roots.
·         They are crop specific inoculant i.e.; specific species infect specific leguminous crop. Example Rhizobium leguminoserum for pea, lentil; Rhizobium lupini for chickpea, Bradyrhizobium japonicum for soybean, therefore, application of specific Rhizobia is most important.
·         Rhizobium culture has been routinely recommended as an input in pulse cultivation.
·         In India about 30 million hectares of land is under pulses cultivation fix nitrogen 50-500 kg/ ha with legumes only.
·         Its application has enhanced the crop yield to an extent of 18-20%.
·          Azotobacter bio-fertilizers:
·         Azotobacter spp. are aerobic, free living, and heterotrophic nitrogen fixing bacteria.
·         They do not produce any visible nodules or out growth on root tissue.
·         They secrete plant growth promoting substances like IAA, GA for the benefit of the plant growth.
·          It is recommended for cereals crops, vegetable crops, fruit crops, ornamental plants, plantation, and commercial crops.
·         It can fix N up to 25 kg/ha under optimum conditions and increase yield up to 50%.
·         A. chroococcum is the most commonly occurring species in arable soils. A. vinelandii, A. beijerinckii, A. insignis and A. macrocytogenes are other reported species. Azotobacter indicum is suitable in acidic soils which can be apply in the north eastern region.
·         They improve seed germination and plant growth by producing B-vitamins, NAA, GA and other chemicals (plant hormones) that are inhibitory to certain root pathogens.
·         Azospirillum biofertilizers:
·         Azospirillum spp. are nitrogen fixer soil bacteria, heterotrophic and associative in nature.
·         They form close association with the roots of the plants but however they do not produce any visible nodules.
·          They can be used in all cereals, grasses, millets, vegetables and ornamental plants.
·         In addition to their nitrogen fixing ability of about 20‐40 kg/ha, they also produce growth regulating substances.
·         A.lipoferum and A.brasilense has been found out to be more acid tolerant species   and best suited in the North-Eastern region.

Fig. 1: Effect of the application of Rhizobium sp. on the growth of Vigna unguiculata

2) Phosphate Solubilizing Bacteria (PSB) biofertilizers:

·         Most of the Indian soils are low to medium in P status due to soil fixation and hence become unavailable for the absorption by the plants.
·         PSB play a major role in the solubilization and uptake of the fixed phosphate through various mechanisms.
·         PSB also produce plant growth hormones (IAA, GA etc.) and help in plant growth and development.
·         PSB belong mostly to the genera of Pseudomonas and Bacillus.
·         Soluble phosphate is taken up easily by plants resulting in 10-20% increase in the yield of almost all the crops.
·         This can be used for all monocots and dicots.

3) Potassium Mobilizing Bacteria (KMB) bio-fertilizers:

·         Bacteria such as Frateuria aurantia and Bacillus sp are capable of mobilizing potassium in the soil into a usable form to the plants known as K solubilizing bacteria,
·         KMB play a predominant role in potassium nutrient uptake.
·          It enhances early root development and hence adds up to the soil health.
·         By applying K mobilizers, 15-25% yield can be enhanced. It can reduce the potash application by 50-60%.
·         This can be used in all types of crops.
·         4) Micronutrients bio-fertilizers:
·         Microorganism that can transform micronutrients are there in soil that can be used as bio-fertilizers to supply micronutrients like zinc, iron, copper etc.,
·         Zinc being of utmost importance is found in the earth’s crust to the tune of 0.008 per cent but more than 50 per cent of Indian soils exhibit deficiency of zinc with content mostly below the critical level of 1.5 ppm of available zinc.
·         Zinc can be solubilized by microorganism’s viz., Bacillus subtilis, Thiobacillus thioxidans and Saccharomyces sp.
·         These microorganisms can be used as Bio-fertilizers for solubilisation of fixed micronutrients like zinc and iron which are very important for plants especially for rice cultivation.

Fig. 2: Effect of the Bio-fertilizers on the growth of Coriandrum sativum
T1: Control, T2: Azotobacter, T3: PSB, T4: KMB
5) NPK Bio-fertilizers:
·         It is a liquid bio-fertilizer containing a combination of the compatible microorganisms of nitrogen fixer, phosphate solubilizing bacterium and potash solubilizing bacterium.
·         This bio-fertilizers have become very popular with the farmers especially the tea growers in Assam and other Northeastern region.
It can be used in all crops. 
              Methods of Liquid Bio-fertilizers Application:   
S1. Seed treatment: Dilute 100ml (one small cup) of the liquid bio-fertilizers in one litre of water and mix thoroughly with the seed. Ensure that all the seeds are uniform and well coated, shade dry and sow immediately. For better result make jaggery (3rd grade) solution for uniform coating of the bio-fertilizers.
  2.  Root dipping: This method is commonly followed in paddy and vegetable crops. Dilute 100ml of the liquid bio-fertilizers in one litre of water, dip the roots for half an hour and transplant immediately.
  3. Soil treatment: Mix 500 ml of the bio-fertilizers with 50Kg FYM/vermicompost/compost/ soil. Leave as such overnight and maintain 50% moisture. The mixture can be broadcast in one-acre area.

**The liquid bio-fertilizers can also be mass multiplied by adding 1 litre of the bio-fertilizers with 10 kg jaggery in 100 Lt of water in plastic drum.

(The Writer of this article can be contacted at the email id amandashylla@gmail.com) 


Friday, October 19, 2018

Smt. Trinity Saioo- A Successful Woman Farmer honoured for Excellence in Horticulture Production

Smt.Trinity Saioo receiving the Award from Union Minister of Agriculture

Trinity Saioo, a mother of 6 children comprising of 3 sons and 3 daughters and 5 grandsons lives in Mulieh village in West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya. Her village, a nondescript village comprises of 230 households and practicing traditional agriculture. What is unique about this village though is the fact that all the household here now grows the Prized Lakadong Turmeric, because of the innovative and hard work of one lady farmer, who led from the front with exemplary and steadfast leadership. Lakadong Turmeric, which is grown in Laskein CD  block of West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, has become very popular in recent years due to its high curcurmin content of above 7 %  and has high market demand for its unique taste, flavour, aroma and vibrant yellow color.

Growing Lakadong Turneric variety was not a traditional crop in this village. In fact the farmers of this village grows a different variety of turmeric known as “Lachein.” This variety of turmeric has poor cucurmin content, less market demand and hence could not fetch a good price in the market. Being poor and illiterate farmers, majority of them are not aware about this superior variety called “Lakadong.”  It was only in the year 2003 that Smt. Saioo, a Graduate brought this lakadong variety and planted in her own fields. As a result, she could earn twice the amount compared to income from growing the Lachein variety. The very next year, Smt. Saioo persuaded her fellow villagers to switch to this new variety “Lakadong” and many from her villages followed her footsteps. However, the high cost of seed tubers was a dampener for the resource poor farmers as they could not afford to buy more in order to replace their traditional variety.

Smt. Trinity Saioo took the burden upon herself to help her fellow villagers and approached Spices Board in Shillong for help. She also took upon herself to help 25 farmers with the necessary documentation to avail financial and technical support from Spices Board. With the assistance from Spices Board, she and 25 other farmers started replacing their traditional turmeric with Lakadong variety. This assistance from Spices Board continued for 4 years and in this period, the farmers of Mulieh Village were transformed economically due to the switch over to Lakadong variety which fetches them double their previous earnings. Two of her farmers, Smt. Marlin Dhar and Smt. Rosa Dhar from Mulieh village testified that it was Trinity Saioo who motivated them and as a result they have been able to construct their own houses from growing Lakadong variety of Turmeric

Since then, there was no turning back for this village. Smt. Trinity Saioo started motivating other farmers from adjoining villages of Madankynsaw, Mynktung, Rtiang, Pyntei and Laskein to switch over to Lakadong variety. She mobilised about 800 farmers to cultivate this Lakadong variety in their respective villages as ICAR research has also indicated uniqueness of this ecological situation which enables the lakadong variety to perform exceedingly well while yielding very high cucurmin content, compared to other geographical locations in the State.  This unique natural advantage has given the farmers of this area a golden opportunity to produce one of the best turmeric spice in the State.

There is no stopping for Smt. Saioo- her vocal nature and strong leadership qualities egg her to push forward with her mission.  With 800 farmers with her, she started a co-operative society known as “Ieng Skhem Spice Producer Industrial Co-operative Society”  in order to organise the production and marketing of this spice. She also associated her Society with “Life Spice Federation of Self Help Groups of Laskein CD Block in order to rejuvenate this federation. She along with the other women members of the federation started value addition activities of Lakadong Turmeric through drying, slicing, powdering (grinding) and packaging. Under her leadership, the federation started to explore market linkages on their own for selling the value added Lakadong Turmeric. The federation started their own processing factory called Life Spice and started paying better prices to farmers, who sold their produce to the federation.

In early 2018 when the State Government was exploring ways to expand production of Lakadong Turmeric in Lakein CD Block, Smt. Trinity Saioo was in the forefront of nudging the State Government to launch Lakadong Turmeric Mission with the objective of upscaling the production and productivity of Lakadong Turmeric.

Smt. Trinity Saioo, with the Citation 
Today Smt. Trinity Saioo has 100 numbers of Turmeric SHG’s under her federation and she is also the Assistant General Secretary of the Federation. Under her leadership, the federation is able to export Lakadong Turmeric to southern State like Kerala , Karnataka and other North Eastern States.

The federation also sells directly to wholesale buyers and retailers through courier agencies when they receive orders for this prized spice. On 15th October 2018, Smt. Trinity Saio was felicitated and honoured for her valuable contribution and innovative work by the Union Ministry of Agriculture for ‘Excellence in Horticulture’ during the celebration of Mahila Kisan Divas 2018, which was held in NASC Complex, Pusa New Delhi. She received the Award in person from the Union Minister of Agriculture, Shri. Radha Mohan Singh at a glittering function graced by 40 other successful farm women from across the country.    


( Written by Shri. C.S.Shabong, Assistant Director of Agriculture(info), Directorate of Agriculture, Meghalaya, Email: csshabong@gmail.com) 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

1917 INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY ENABLED AGRI MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (ITEAMS) – Using ICT for Empowering Agriculture


1917 iTEAMS Agri Response Centre (ARC)
Photo 1: Inside the 1917 iTEAMS ARC
         Meghalaya, a predominantly agrarian State, rich in agro-biodiversity is still yet to unleash its agricultural potential. Many of the States’ commercial and unique produce viz. Lakadong turmeric, organic vegetables, natural honey, coffee, cashewnut, strawberries, etc. are still absent in diverse intra and inter markets of the States. Majority of the farmers are confined to selling their produce in daily/weekly village markets or in main markets in the Districts. Walking through the streets of the biggest market in the state of Meghalaya, Iewduh Shillong, the streets are crammed with vegetables and fruits vendors and producers. This leads to high competition among them and paves way for the wholesalers and traders to suppress the price of the produce, thus depriving the producers of their rightful gain. A large majority of the farmers are still in the dark about different local based organizations or online portals for selling their produce and only a handful of the farmers in the State have access to such marketing platforms. Moreover, the lack of timely access to proper information and poor infrastructure like roads, cold storage facilities, etc. impede farmers from their well-deserved earnings.
The Department of Agriculture, Government of Meghalaya, with the motto of “Connecting farmers to markets’, launched the project 1917iTEAMS (Integrated Technology Enabled Agri Management System) in December 2017. The project which is based on Information Communication Technology (ICT) aims to cater to the needs of the farmers with just a phone call away as mobile telephony is the technology of choice for people from all walks of life today. Further, Meghalaya which ranked among the top 10 States of India with a potential growth rate in rural tele-density (Open Government Data Platform India, 2014), is in a much better position to capitalize on and take benefits from the various digital initiatives for digital empowerment of the masses and provision of digital delivery of various services to the citizens.
1917iTEAMS, a first of its kind project in the hilly terrain, is designed to connect farmers to the Agri- Response Centre(ARC) through a toll-free number 1917 for services related to agro-advisory services, market intelligence and transporting of agricultural produce by Agri-Response Vehicles (ARVs). The project is equipped with Incoming Communication Officers (ICOs) who are Agricultural & Veterinary Masters graduates as Level 1 Experts themselves and Dispatch Officers (DOs) in charge of ARVs. Farmers are connected to the ICOs through the Toll-Free number 1917, where the latter assists them in any queries related to disease and pest management, package of practices on apiculture, fisheries, Sericulture, scheme related information, health management of livestock, providing buyer information and any other allied sectors information. There are also Level 2 escalations to Subject Matter Experts(SMS) who are employees of the Agriculture and Allied State and Central Government departments.
A 1917 iTEAMS Agri Response Vehicle (ARV)
Photo 2: 1917 iTEAMS ARV loading farmer's produce for transportation
Although still in its infancy, with just three months of implementation, the 1917iTEAMS project has been able to carry through its intentions and objectives. The project has been able to provide assistance to more than two thousand queries of the farmers especially on crop disease and pest management. In-spite of the fact that the project has not been advertised at large, the ARVs have been the service of choice of about Fifteen Percent newly registered farmers who were in need of transporting agricultural products to and from their villages to markets.
One of the main objectives of 1917iTEAMS is to connect farmers to markets eliminating wasteful intermediation and multiple handling by middlemen, thereby significantly reducing transaction costs. The project has been able to provide a market information platform for a significant percentage of its registered farmers who inquired about selling off their produce. A noteworthy story so far, a registered farmer of 1917iTEAMS from a remote village in Jaintia hills complained to an ICO of 1917iTEAMS about the poor marketing of his produce apropos to which a Shillong based organization was introduced to him for buying his produce. Through this introduction, a successful business transaction was built between the farmer and the organization, and additionally with the farmers of the entire and nearby villages.
Many other successful marketing networks has also been created between the poultry registered farmers of 1917iTEAMS with other Shillong based organizations and local chicken vendors. What is more, in many cases, a marketing network was created by 1917iTEAMS among the registered farmers themselves for buying and selling their required commodities. One such instance where this scenario was applied was for buying and selling of piglets among the registered farmers and this initiative was highly appreciated.
Agriculture is an important sector of Meghalaya’s economy and information is vital for development and well-being of the rural masses. ICT in agriculture can act as a driving force in this development process. 1917iTEAMS has applied ICT to the advantage of Meghalaya’s small, marginal and resource-poor farmers by disseminating timely agricultural information pertaining to soil enrichment, seed selection, disease and pest management, organic cultivation, prevailing markets, demand-supply status in respect of different products and their current market prices. The information helps farmers in taking timely decisions on crop product diversification strategies and positioning of the same in right market to get optimum revenue. With more milestones to accomplish, 1917iTEAMS aims to empower the farmers of the state of Meghalaya to reach their highest potential. 
 (Article written by 1917-iTEAMS Program Management Unit)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Governor of Meghalaya Launched 5 Year Mission Lakadong



Photo: Mission Lakadong being unveiled by the Governor of Meghalaya
The Governor of Meghalaya, Shri Ganga Prasad today launched a five year Mission Lakadong 2018-2023, a convergent Mission of the Directorate of Horticulture, Department of Agriculture with the Governor’s Secretariat, Community &  Rural Development  Department,  Forest   Department, North Eastern Hill University and Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship at a function held at State Convention Centre, Shillong. The programme was organized by the Directorate of Horticulture.
The inaugural function was also attended by Shri Nujorki Sungoh, MLA, Mowkaiaw Constituency, Shri K.N. Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary to the Governor of Meghalaya, Shri P. Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Agriculture Department, Smti M. N. Nampui, Secretary, Agriculture Department, Smti B.N. War, Director of Horticulture, Dr. S. Rama Rao, Professor and Head, Biotechnology, NEHU, Shri A. Madhukar, Chairman, Afro-Asian Development Consortium, entrepreneurs and turmeric farmers of Jaintia Hills.

Speaking on the occasion as Chief Guest, the Governor said Meghalaya climatic condition is conducive for growing a variety of spices, the prominent ones are turmeric, ginger, chilli, black pepper and bay-leaf. Jaintia Hills District is home to one of the finest turmeric varieties in the world and the most famous one being the Lakadong turmeric with a curcumin content of more than 7% is highly sought after by the market, added the Governor. He further added that Lakadong turmeric is a rare type of turmeric and has the potential to change the lives of countless farmers if its uniqueness is properly exploited and there is an established demand for the variety and buyers who are willing to pay a premium for its quality.

“I am aware that this chemical free turmeric is much sought after for use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industry. However, despite such good demand, farmers have not, till date, been able to realise the full economic potential of this crop because most of them are small and marginal, and due to non availability of planting material and low volumes. The negative influence of the middle men is another major factor. I understand that there are at least 1000 farmers engaged in the cultivation of Lakadong Turmeric in Laskein and Thadlaskein Blocks, and the area is about 2500 hectares. I have also ascertained that the total production is just about 10,000 M.T. per year. This kind of volume is not sufficient to create a global foot print for our Lakadong. So, there is a necessity to undertake a mission mode intervention to increase the production of Lakadong Tumeric to at least 50,000 M.T. per year and more than double the area” he added.
The Mission Lakadong was launched to lend exclusive focus on one of Meghalaya’s most well known spices, the Lakadong turmeric, also known as the golden spice and to put in place targeted interventions aimed at the improvement of livelihoods of turmeric farmers by leveraging upon its default organic status  and its high curumin content, which at more than 7% is the highest in the world, to capture and meet the demand for this valuable spice from markets and industries especially the pharmaceutical industry.

Photo 2: A lady Entrepreneur Smt.Isabella Pakma making slices

The Mission will adopt an end to end holistic approach to organic Lakadong cultivation and will put in place interventions to increase that area under from its current status of 6367 acres (2577 hectares) to 15,000 acres (6070 hectares) over the next five years while improving the productivity from 6 MT per hectare to 8 MT per hectare, introduction of the latest technologies of plant propagation to increase and improve the availability of planting material, post harvest technology induction including solar dehydrators, product aggregation, the creation of a dedicated Hub and Center for Excellence for Lakadong, mobilization of farmers into Farmer Interest Groups, training, capacity building, creation of an ecosystem for promotion of turmeric based agri-businesses and a dedicated supply chain linked to markets for turmeric.

The main objective of the Mission is to enhance the livelihood and income opportunities of Lakadong turmeric farmers by leveraging on the uniqueness of Lakadong to tap the current and emerging opportunities in the spice sector. This will call for setting a target of 50,000 MTs of Lakadong in a period of five years.

Building up the brand equity of Lakadong as a uniquely Meghalayan premium product, both online and offline, that is synonymous with quality and purity. This will call for investment to register the Geographical Indication for Meghalaya’s Lakadong.

Induction of the latest technology and management practices for enhancing the availability of quality planting material. This will call for establishing Tissue culture Labs in key locations of the state and using the available resources of NEHU, Forest and Agriculture Departments and creation of an ecosystem that catalyses the emergence and growth of local private enterprises in the value chain. This will call for sustained capacity building of the potential entrepreneurs and establishing market linkage by the Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship.

Others who spoke on the occasion were Shri Nujorki Sungoh, MLA, Shri K.N. Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, Shri P. Sampath Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary, Agriculture Department, Smti M. N. Nampui, Secretary Agriculture Department, Smti B.N. War, Director of Horticulture, Dr. S. Rama Rao, Professor and Head, Biotechnology, NEHU and Shri A. Madhukar, Chairman, Afro-Asian Development Consortium.

Later, Technical Session was held on the topics, namely; Brief about the Mission, Market Access-Future Ready, Inducting Technologies, Rapid Multiplication of Lakadong through Tissue Culture, Bio-Diversity, the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmer’s Right Act 2001, Organic Cultivation of Turmeric and Presentation on 1917iTEAMS.

(Source: Official Press Release by the DIPR, Government of Meghalaya)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Department of Agriculture awarded Krishi Commendation Award 2015-16

Photo 1:  Minister of Agriculture, Meghalaya receiving the Award

The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India conferred the Department of Agriculture Meghalaya with the Krishi Commendation Award for the year 2015-16, in recognition of the commendable foodgrains production achieved by the State.   The Award carries a citation, trophy and a cash award of INR 1(One) Crore. The award was received by the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri. Conrad K. Sangma on behalf of the people of the State, from the Prime Minister of India, in presence of Agriculture Minister, Shri. Banteidor Lyngdoh, Shri.B.Mawlong, MCS, Joint Secretary Agriculture and Shri. R.Langstieh, Director of Agriculture(R&T).

The Chief Minister dedicated the award to the people of the State and especially the farmers. “It gives an immense pleasure that I have received the award on behalf of the farmers of the State, who have scripted a success story. It is just the beginning and we are looking forward to support our farmers in the best possible way”, said the CM. The Chief Minister thanked the Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Agriculture for recognizing Meghalaya with this award, which was possible because of the hard work of the farmers and the officials of the Department of Agriculture and other stakeholders.

Addressing the gathering at the Krishi Unnati Mela held at IARI, Pusa New Delhi, the Prime Minister of India said that Unnati Mela play a key role in paving the way for New India. He said that today, he has the opportunity to simultaneously speak to two sentinels of New India- farmers and scientists. He said farmers and scientists have to work together to transform agriculture. The Prime Minister specially mentioned the State of Meghalaya, which received an award for its achievements in agriculture, in the period under review. The Prime Minister appreciated the spirit and the hard work of our farmers, for their achievements in agriculture since independence. He said that today, there is record production of foodgrains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, and milk. He said that there are important challenges in agriculture today, which reduce the farmers income, and increase his losses and expenditure. He said the Government is working with a holistic approach to deal with these challenges. He said the aim remains to double farmers incomes, and make the farmers lives easier.

The Prime Minister also said comprehensive steps are being taken for Agriculture Marketing Reforms. It is important to connect Rural Retail Markets with wholesale and global markets. He said that in the recent Union Budget, Grameen Retail Agriculture Markets have been envisaged. 22,000 rural haats will be upgraded with necessary infrastructure, and integrated with APMC and the e-NAM platform.

The Prime Minister also emphasized on the importance of Farmer Producer Organizations. He said Farmer Producer Organizations, would be given relief on income tax, on the lines of cooperative societies. He said a new chapter in Agriculture Marketing Reform is being added in this programme, with the e-marketing portal for organic products. He said that along with the Green Revolution and White Revolution, we must stress on Organic Revolution, Water Revolution, Blue Revolution, and Sweet Revolution. The Prime Minister said that the Government is working to ensure that adequate Agriculture Credit is available.

It may be mentioned that Meghalaya has received the Krishi Award from the Ministry of Agriculture for four consecutive years under the programme “National Food Security Mission”, a centrally sponsored scheme of the Central Government, which aims to increase production and productivity of foodgrains like Rice, Maize and Pulses in the country.

(This article has been reproduced and adapted from the official press release of DIPR, Government of Meghalaya)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Focus Group Workshop on 1917 iTEAMS

                                                                             - By Canning S Shabong



Smt.H.Lyngdoh, Director of Horticulture Meghalaya welcoming the dignitaries


INTRODUCTION:

The 1(One) Day Focus Group Workshop on 1917-Integrated Technology Enabled Agri Management System (iTEAMS), is the first workshop held with a section of stakeholders, in order to sensitize, inform and educate about the new program of the Department of Agriculture, which is being prepared for roll out in the State. The workshop invited stakeholders comprising farmer leaders, agro-entrepreneurs, KVK Subject Matter Specialists (SMS), Block Technology Managers (BTM) and Assistant Technology Managers (ATM) of ATMA's and Departmental officers. The Inaugural Function was attended by Commissioner & Secretary Agriculture, Shri. P.S.Kumar, IAS, Joint Secretary Agriculture Department Shri, B.Mawlong, MCS, Director of Horticulture, Smt. H.Lyngdoh, Director of Agriculture (R&T), Smt. B.N War and Officers from Directorate of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry led by Dr. Rijal, Director. The Chief Guest of the workshop is Dr. Mukul M. Sangma, Hon'ble Chief Minister incharge Agriculture & Horticulture etc.

Objectives:  The main objective of the workshop is to understand the views and opinions of the various stakeholders about the 1917 iTEAMS program, inform educate and sensitize the various stakeholders about the goals and objectives of this new initiative which is planned for roll out in a short time by the State Government, using a multi modal and multi sectoral technology platform.

INAUGURAL FUNCTION:

Speaking at the inaugural function during the 1917 iTEAMS Focus Group Workhop, the Chief  Minister of Meghalaya incharge Agriculture & Horticulture, Dr. Mukul M.Sangma reiterated that the 1917- Integrated Technology Enabled Agri Management System (iTEAMS) is a very important initiative of the State Government for the farming community.  In the era of technology driven economy, the CM said that "there is need to ensure that we leverage upon  technology that is available and technology that is evolving, thereby ensuring that farmers have access to the latest scientific information in order to make farming more remunerative. Farming will become remunerative when farmers are able to realise optimal benefit from their land resources.

Further, Agriculture is the "On thing and will remain the On thing so long as this planet exist"  the Chief Minister told the participants of the focus group workshop. When farmers are empowered with knowledge and skills, only then the State will be able to overcome the challenge of food and nutritional security. Farmers are the most important stakeholders of our program and there is a need to involve them and connect them to this program from the very beginning, the CM opined.

iTEAMS is borne out of the fact that there is a huge need for creating a knowledge bank which is accessible to farmers as well as provide comprehensive support system to ensure farmer's produce reaches the nearest markets and ensure last mile connectivity. There is also an urgent need to minimise post harvest losses to optimise farmer's income. This 1917 iTEAMS program is a comprehensive, exhaustive and technology driven initiative, which needs domain specific expertise. The Toll free Number 1917 will ensure on demand evacuation service for farmer's produce from their villages to the nearest markets.  

Through this Program farmers will have comprehensive information about their land, the nutritional status of the soil, the moisture content, the micro climatic condition around their area, the sunshine duration etc. Today with the help of technology platform, we are now in a better position to provide these information to farmers.  

Nations who focused on agriculture are able to come out of poverty level as well as job and unemployment related issues. Farming has to be designed to attract the younger agro entrepreneurs in order to make agriculture more remunerative, attractive and sustainable. We need to create extensive awareness and educate the people about the magnitude of opportunities that agriculture sector can provide, including the quantum of entrepreneurship that can be generated in the agriculture value chain.

We want the World to know that we are creating an enabling environment and we want all friends to partner and participate in this program to show the World that we can grow and prosper, even in the midst of adversity. Agriculture will ultimately determine our future and we need to have the courage to dream big and also empower the farmers to dare to dream big, the CM concluded and set the tone for the workshop to deliberate and brainstorm. 

WORKSHOP:

The Focus Group Discussion was chaired by the Commissioner & Secretary Agriculture. Shri.B.Sohliya, OSD Meghalaya Institute of Enpreneurship gave an overview about the 1917 iTEAMS program through a power point presentation. He explained about the key concept, rationale, the program objectives and the architecture of the program, which is planned for roll out by the department.

A Q&A session followed thereafter where the stakeholders representing each group were given opportunity to share their opinion and raise questions about this program. Some of the stakeholders also give suggestions on integrating Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) from Common Service Centres (CSC) into the program. The VLE present also expressed their willingness to join as franchisees. The consensus that emerged from this workshop is that the program, will indeed be very useful for the farmers of the State and can potentially be a game changer in the agriculture development of the State.