Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday held a meeting with the recently constituted economic advisory committee at Brahmaputra State Guest House in Guwahati.
In view of the economic slowdown brought by novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Chief Minister sought recommendations and suggestions from the committee to re-energise the state’s economy.
Stating that agriculture and allied sectors have lots of potentials to generate employment opportunities and bring about faster economic dividends, Sonowal stressed on the need to provide market linkage to farmers while assuring them of a minimum guaranteed price for their produce. “Lack of market linkage could de-motivate the farmers, especially young generation farmers and therefore, it was necessary to make sure farmers’ products were not wasted in the farms”, he said.
The Chief Minister called on the committee to provide recommendations to streamline production-procurement-marketing chain so that a roadmap can be prepared for achieving market sustainability for the farmers. Augmentation of cold storage and other such facilities was the need of the hour and the committee must put forward their suggestions in this regard, he said.
Saying that every crisis brings opportunity, Sonowal stressed on the need to make the state self-reliant in sectors such as fisheries, livestock, fruit cultivation, dairy farming etc. through strategic interventions. He also said that youths of the state returning from outside due to COVID-19 pandemic must be empowered to live a life of dignity through self-employment opportunities and agriculture and its allied sectors can play a very important role in this.
Citing his experience of visiting Vietnam, the Chief Minister elaborated on the practice of value addition to food products in Vietnam and said Assam has the potential to capture the markets of neighbouring countries with its agricultural products. He urged the economic advisory committee members to devise strategies for economic resurgence by creating a model which reaches the grass roots through the panchayats. Informing that 58 thousand SHGs in the state earned more than Rs. 900 crore by engaging in livestock business last year, Sonowal emphasised the need to rejuvenate the SHG model for rural economic resurgence.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Central government’s schemes for the farmers like Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, providing Rs 5000 as financial assistance to farmers etc. the Chief Minister said all these schemes were launched with the aim to double the farmers’ income and he urged the committee members to provide recommendations for proper implementation of the same. He also said that the present crisis has brought an opportunity for rooting out the middlemen from the system and engage the local youths in agricultural products distribution. Unless and until the society did not give respect to the farmers, the young generation could not be encouraged to take up farming, he said.
Chairman of the committee Subhash Das said that after going through available data the committee would be able to submit a preliminary report within next 20 days. The committee would look at making systematic interventions through a holistic approach, he said.
It is to be mentioned that the 8 member economic advisory committee was constituted by the Chief Minister on May 3.