Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, while delivering his last Independence Day speech before the Assembly elections next year, on Saturday announced a slew of incentives in the agriculture sector such as setting up of rice clusters, mills, cold storages and milk processing units.
Hoisting the Tricolour at a subdued function to celebrate the 74th Independence Day here, Sonowal said farmers have productively utilised the lockdown and their products were exported to Dubai, London, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong and other markets.
He said rice clusters will be set up in Dhemaji and Baksa districts for its production in a scientific manner.
“The state government will set up rice purchasing centres in every district so that farmers get the minimum support price for their produce. We will also offer 30 per cent grants to set up 220 rice mills,” Sonowal said.
The government will distribute 1,000 mini-trucks among youths and self-help groups (SHGs) to ensure smooth transportation between paddy fields and markets, he said.
“The Assam government has already identified 75,000 bighas of agricultural land in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi”s call to develop the state and the Northeast as an organic hub. Today, I announce that the state administration will set up a Centre of Excellence for Organic Agriculture in Biswanath district,” Sonowal said.
Besides, the government will establish milk processing units in every district under the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode and the first three units will be set up in Morigaon, Sonitpur and Bajali, the chief minister said.
“Considering the shortage of cold storage units, the state government has decided to establish such facilities in every district to preserve the products of the farmers scientifically,” he said.
A new programme will be announced in association with the Assam Agricultural University to popularise maize farming. Also, animal feed units will be set up under the PPP mode and an initiative will be taken for spice farming, Sonowal said.
He said the government has taken initiatives to promote pisciculture to make Assam self-sufficient in fish production.
“Between March 24 and July 25, the farmers of Assam have earned Rs 852 crore by selling vegetables and fruits. These products were exported to West Bengal and Bihar along with foreign markets like Dubai and other places,” Sonowal said.
The meat and egg traders have done businesses worth Rs 150 crore, while 11,000 women SHGs earned more than Rs 11 crore by selling over 52 lakh masks during the lockdown period, he said.
The chief minister announced that the government has decided to increase the upper age limit from 38 to 40 years for all the grade III and IV posts.
“Through a transparent and merit-based system, 38,000 youths were given jobs by the state government since 2016-17. Besides, the retirement age of 46,000 teachers have been increased to 60 years,” he said.
The 126-member Assam Assembly is scheduled to go for elections during March-April next year.