Agriculture minister Atul Bora shares his vision for Assam with Business North East

Pankhi Sarma

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Guwahati: Atul Bora, the minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary, Implementation of Assam Accord, Border Protection & Dev, Govt of Assam, during a conversation with Business North East (BNE), emphasized the need for Assam to not only achieve self-sufficiency but also to elevate its status as a major exporter.

The Assam Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, in collaboration with the Assam Livestock and Poultry Corporation, recently concluded a three-day Livestock and Poultry Show 2023-24 at the Farm Gate Field, Khanapara, Guwahati. On the sidelines of this event, Bora exclusively spoke to Business North East immense potential of the agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry, and veterinary sectors of the state.

Business North East: What is your opinion on the potential of the agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry, and veterinary sector in Assam?

Atul Bora: Traditionally, people in this region have been involved in rearing cattle more as a tradition and heritage than for business purposes. However, the Livestock and Poultry Show, along with the initiatives taken by our government, aims to transform this sector into a thriving business. The sector has immense potential in Assam, and there is a need to transition from a traditional approach to a more business-oriented one.

BNE: Your thoughts on the Livestock and Poultry Show 2023-24 recently held in Guwahati? What is its significance for the state of Assam?

AB: The Livestock and Poultry Show attracted numerous youths to engage with the sector, inspiring them to explore opportunities. It is a crucial event for Assam, showcasing the potential of our agriculture, dairy, and animal husbandry, and veterinary sector. This is the fourth time we have organized the livestock and poultry exhibition in Guwahati. With this fair, a large number of youths, especially the younger generation have associated with this sector. The Livestock and Poultry Show featuring 200 stalls, drew participants from Meghalaya, Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, and other states across the country who not only exhibited diverse breeds of birds and animals but also provided valuable insights into their care and management.

BNE: What initiatives has the government undertaken to boost the income and livelihood of farmers in Assam?

AB: Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has placed significant emphasis on this sector, not just for development but also as a means to achieve financial independence and empowerment for our farmers. He has been a vocal advocate for the development of the agriculture, dairy, livestock, and poultry sector. The government has implemented various initiatives to improve the income and livelihoods of farmers, including a Rs 5 subsidy for organized sector farmers. We aim to increase our export levels, ensuring that Assam becomes a significant contributor to the national and global markets in agriculture and related industries.

BNE: What is the present scenario of organic cultivation in this part of the country?

AB: The government is actively promoting organic cultivation and natural farming in response to the adverse health effects of fertilizers and pesticides in food products. Specific focus areas, such as Majuli and Dima Hasao, have been identified for organic farming initiatives. Apart from organic farming, we are also committed to increasing dairy production and have collaborated with the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to achieve this goal, which ensures a substantial increase in dairy output, providing economic opportunities for farmers.

BNE: How is the government contributing to the agricultural landscape of Assam?

AB: Government initiatives, including missions focused on floriculture, fodder, and millet, have been set in motion to benefit farmers and enhance the overall agricultural landscape of the state. These missions are integral to our efforts to benefit farmers and enhance agricultural productivity. The missions focus on various aspects. The implementation of these missions is part of our broader strategy to uplift the farming community and boost agricultural income.

BNE: How is the export scenario of agricultural products from Assam, including the 'Bamboo Mission'?

AB: We have plans to tap into global markets. Assam exported products worth 4000 crores in 2022-23, including tea, with an additional 1,800 crores from horticultural products. The implementation of the 'Bamboo Mission' will bring in development, albeit gradually. At present bamboo is being used in the Numaligarh Ethanol Project which will play a pivotal role in the coming years, positioning bamboo as a potential driver of regional development. With a clear vision and strategic initiatives, Assam will soon transform its agriculture, dairy, and related sectors into engines of growth, contributing significantly to the state's economic prosperity.

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Pankhi Sarma