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Gujarat Govt says Capacity building, liberalisation made farming sparkle

Apart from the various measures adopted by the State Government, improvements in delivery system, democratising, capacity building and encouraging farmers to take their own decisions as clusters, have made the Gujarat miracle in agriculture possible.

“We have unbundled rules and 70 per cent of all decisions are taken at farmers’ groups at the taluka level itself. Since we do not make any purchases whatsoever, at Government or agricultural corporation levels, we have seen the number of probes in malpractices fall from 892 in 2009 to just three in 2012,” says R. K. Tripathi, Principal Secretary, Agriculture.

So liberalised has been the process in Gujarat that most of the decisions are taken by about 16,000 clusters of farmers and 7,000 groups of women across the State.

The State Government does not force the farmers to buy seeds, machinery or equipment and encourages them to decide it on their own as a group. So, the demand is being created by the farmers. Purchasing officers are no longer extension officers. Even the Director of Agriculture has no powers in this regard, nor any political interference allowed.

No paper, no quota system The State Government has adopted a policy of no paper and no quota system and does not sanction anything to the farmers. It only provides a fixed financial assistance to farmers and has de-controlled decision-making. The Government prefers the farmers’ clusters to take a collective decision and make a choice. “We are focused on increasing productivity and creating a knowledge-base through the annual Krishi Mahotsava,” he said.

In the case of horticulture, the State Government has been flooded by 18,000 applications to set up green or net houses. Even with the existing 3,500 greenhouses, Gujarat currently tops in India. The State Government is likely to assist the selected greenhouse developers with finances of up to Rs 70 lakh.

In Gujarat, irrigation has been debottlenecked. Now, even drip irrigation can be decided by farmers’ clusters on a group basis. The State Government does not keep payment of grants pending: 75 per cent of grants are released in the month of April itself every financial year and all payments are completed for the year by August-September.

Interestingly, the agricultural revolution in Gujarat has been the strongest in areas which were water deficient until the last few years. These areas have registered the highest productivity with the optimum use of available water. “In these areas, about two lakh farmers applied to the Government agreeing to share water through the drip irrigation technology.”

Another important aspect of Gujarat agriculture has been that most investments in this sector have been for creation of agricultural infrastructure for collective usage, rather than using the money for individual subsidies.

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