- Sujal Pradhan, NET Correspondent, Sikkim
Commemorating the 75th years of Independence themed on “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, the state-level seminar on the Promotion of Agri-preneurship was held today at Manan Kendra in Gangtok.
The programme was graced by the Minister of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services (AH&VS) – Lok Nath Sharma, as its Chief Guest.
Organized by the Agriculture and Horticulture Department, the state-level seminar was also attended by the Secretary of Agriculture – Rinzing C. Bhutia, Secretary of Horticulture – BB Subba, Secretary of CMO – Tenzing Kizom Bhutia, Secretary of AH&VS – Dr. P. Sinthil Kumar, departmental officials, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) from all districts, Educated Agriculture Graduates and field functionaries at large.
Addressing the house, the Agriculture Minister Lok Nath Sharma recalled the importance of a series of patriotic activities being accomplished by the state of Sikkim as a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and marked the event, exemplary, under the leadership of the Chief Minister.
He mentioned that a large section of the farming community has benefitted under the ruling government with the launching of path-breaking schemes like Mukhyamantri Krishi Atma Nirbhar Yojana (MMKANY), Mukhya Mantri Pashudhan Sammridhi Yojana, Mukhya Mantri Matsya Utpadan Yojana, and other initiatives.
Sharma further remarked that the state government has provided financial incentives of around rupees twenty-six (26) crore to more than fifteen thousand farmers as dairy incentives under Mukhyamantri Pashudhan Samriddhi Yojana. Similarly, thirteen thousand and fifty-six beneficiaries have received financial incentives of nine crores sixty-five lakh rupees under MMKANY.
Besides, farmers have also received a three-crore incentive under Piggery farming. Under the leadership of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, the state government has been making tremendous efforts to improve the farming community’s economy, and the impact is also visible within the short span of the last three years, he stated.
He also appealed the FPOs to be more proactive in scaling up the production level and urged them to coordinate with the panchayats and BDOs to lease available barren land, open a custom hiring center, and other farming-centric initiatives.
Sarma briefed on the increasing demand for Sikkim’s produce in the global market of the United States, France, Germany, and other European countries and urged all FPOs and SHGs to adopt cluster farming to meet the demand. He urged central institutes of ICAR and KVKs to conduct research in agriculture and allied sectors.
He shared plans to bring out a policy of accommodating a certain percentage of organic food in the hotels of Sikkim; and reaffirmed that agriculture and horticulture would be the significant sectors in making Sikkim a self-reliant state.
Meanwhile, the minister also informed that the department of AH&VS will launch a mobile van service in all districts soon.
He also appealed to consumers to purchase local organic products produced by the farming community so that the contributions of every individual would be supportive in improving their economy.
Secretary Agriculture Shri Rinzing C. Bhutia proposed the welcome address and marked the event as essential to sensitise and educate entire field functionaries and farmers on promoting Agri-preneurship together at one stage.
He acknowledged the pivotal role of the farmers and advised them to be more competitive in availing agricultural produce at a reasonable price in the market to attract consumers. He also encouraged Agriculture Graduates to come forward to adopt entrepreneurship jointly in a group. Secretary Agriculture also advised sowing quinoa grain crop after harvesting paddy and underlined its value and increasing demands.
Secretary AH&VS Dr. P. Senthil Kumar advised undertaking entrepreneurship in livestock farming with a concept of paradigm shift from traditional practice to the commercialization of produce professionally. He also emphasized the importance of adopting entrepreneurship in potential areas.
FPOs representatives Shri Govind Neopaney from Rakdong Tantek, Gangtok district, and Bijoy Rai from Zoom, Soreng district also shared their experiences. Shri Rai mentioned that his FPO has received financial incentives of rupees thirty lakhs and seventy-five thousand under MMKANY after the state government launched the scheme.
Earlier, Sharma officially inaugurated the state-level seminar and interacted with the exhibitors, including FPOs, SHGs, Sikkim IFFCO organic Ltd. Mevedir enterprise, SIMFED, and others.
The AH&VS Minister also attended the day-long technical session. The session saw the presentation on various schemes of Horticulture, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Spices Board, SIMFED, NABARD, and MSME by the senior officials of the respective departments and organizations.
The programme also saw the distribution of cheques under MMKANY. Sharma handed-over cheques to fourteen beneficiaries from Upper Burtuk constituency.