PASIGHAT, Sept 10: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday exhorted students and faculty of College of Horticulture and Forestry (CHF) here to become catalysts for development in horticulture sector having tremendous potential to change economy of Arunachal Pradesh.
Addressing the students and faculty at the College auditorium here today, Khandu, in his address to CHF fraternity said that despite having huge agri-horti potential the sector has not been exploited except in few pockets. He urged them to evolve methods by expanding technical expertise beyond the college campus to augment horticulture sector to benefit the farmers.
“You have the technical know-how and know the untapped potential of the state. Please take some time out of your academic pursuit to benefit our farmers through your expertise,” he said while informing that only about 3% of 25 lakh hectares of arable land are under use now.
He called upon the students specifically to spend their vacations productively by educating their parents, elders and farmers of their respective villages on best farming practices and produces.
He said the college (under Imphal’s Central Agricultural University) is located at the best possible place (Pasighat) as its land and its adjoining areas lead the state in agriculture while oranges of Dambuk are exported today. Thus, the CHF has the advantage to research, experiment and evolve new technologies to develop the sector further, he said.
“We in the GoAP have given top priority to agri-horti sector, which is evident from our 2019-20budget. We have prepared a roadmap to benefit at least 90,000 farmers in the next two years,” he disclosed. The GoAP has launched Chief Minister’s Sashakt Kisan Yojna to benefit agri-horti farmers, which is in line with the Prime Minister’s campaign to double the income of farmers by 2022.
Pointing out that fishery is another sector, which has been overlooked in the past, he said this year provision has been kept to launch Mukhya Mantri Neel Kranti Abhiyan. This scheme, he said, aims to increase local fish production that will curb timport of fish from other states and benefit local fish farmers.
Reiterating increasing market intelligence of farmers, he said the CHF can help in this regard. “As our farmers lack market intelligence, they are not benefiting economically from their produces. We need to equip them with the knowledge of organic and economically viable produces,” he said.
Khandu said that a Mega Food Park will be set up near state capital as a platform to encourage local farmers by providing whole-sale markets and auction centers to facilitate farmers to exhibit and sell their produces.
“With the support of Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries, we are also opening up Mini Food Parks across the state that will also have facilities for cold storage and market links,” he said.
Pointing out that present youths consider farming as a petty job meant only for the poor and rural folks, Union MoS for Youth Affairs & Sports Kiren Rijiju called for change of their mindset towards farming. Farming is a big business in developed countries where farmers run and make governments, he said, adding “We consider it a lowly job. This mindset should change.”
‘Unemployment’ or ‘joblessness’ should not be state dictionary with abundant land resource, he said and urged youths to consider farming as a profession and take it up successfully to sustain and grow economically. He also suggested the CHF to reach out to the farming community by opening study centers all over the state.
Khandu earlier inaugurated a CT scan unit at Bakin Pertin General Hospital & training center and a souvenir shop at Pasighat Airport. (CMO)