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Tripura May Face Foodgrain Shortage Due to Lack of Rain: Agriculture Minister

The agriculture minister said Wednesday that farmers are satisfied with the Centre's agricultural policies and the state government's arrangements, citing work in providing benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, Kisan Credit Card, and procuring paddy directly from farmers with Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Shivam Dwivedi
Pranajit Singha Roy, Tripura Agriculture Minister
Pranajit Singha Roy, Tripura Agriculture Minister

According to preliminary estimates, Tripura may face a 59,570 MT foodgrain shortage this year because aaush and jhum cultivations could not be completed on 25,000 hectares of cultivable land due to a lack of rainfall, according to agriculture minister Pranajit Singha Roy.

In an interview with the media, Roy stated that the government had set a target of cultivating 30,000 hectares of land during the aaush cropping season this year, as well as a target of shifting cultivation on 15,500 hectares. "However, due to a 52% decrease in rainfall in March and a 64% decrease in rainfall in April this year, aaush crops could only be grown on 11,161 hectares of land, and jhum cultivation could only be done on 9,000 hectares," the minister said.

Roy added that his department's goal is to produce 10,000 MT more crop from 20,000 hectares of land using Integrated Crop Management. According to the minister, the amon sowing season is still ongoing, and while the government hopes that Integrated Crop Management will be sufficient to bridge the gap of foodgrain shortage, the exact picture will be clear after the first crop estimate arrives in October this year. Local paddy cropping seasons are aaush and amon.

Because farmers are having difficulty cultivating aaush due to a lack of rains, the government has decided to provide farmers with Rs 3,918 per hectare of assistance during the amon crop. Farmers who sow young paddy plants in rows, deweed the fields twice, and use prescribed amounts of urea fertilizer would be eligible for the benefit.

According to department estimates, 1.48 lakh hectares of land in the state is under amon crop cover. Agriculture covers approximately 26% of the state's geographical area, including paddy, vegetables, and other crops.

Roy stated that since the BJP took power in Tripura in 2018, the state has worked to become self-sufficient in agriculture and to increase farmer income. "In 2015-16, farmers earned an average monthly income of Rs 6,580, which has now increased to Rs 11,096." "We are now working to increase it to Rs 13,590 by 2022-23," he explained.

The agriculture minister said Wednesday that farmers are satisfied with the Centre's agricultural policies and the state government's arrangements, citing work in providing benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, Kisan Credit Card, and procuring paddy directly from farmers with Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Roy also stated that the state government's subsidies for farmers purchasing agricultural equipment have increased by 41% since 2017-18. In an effort to provide technical assistance to farmers, the government has also established 341 farm machinery banks with over 26,000 pieces of equipment, which benefit the state's unemployed youth.

Aside from the losses suffered by farmers due to less rainfall this year, the government has sanctioned Rs 7.4 crore in compensation for losses suffered during the winter showers in December last year.

On a different note, the agriculture department is launching a pilot programme to test the use of drones for precision farming. Drones would be used in this initiative to identify crop species by area, calculate exact requirements for seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and insecticides, soil humidity, and irrigation needs, and provide early warnings of disease and pest attacks. The Agriculture Director stated that one to two drones are likely to be used on a pilot basis this fiscal year and that experts from various Krishi Vigyan Kendras operating in the state are being trained on drone technology.

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