Arunachal plans to become self-reliant in agriculture sector

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Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday assured the Centre that with improved connectivity in the state, the state government will do everything possible to achieve self-reliance in the agriculture sector.

Attending a virtual conference chaired by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Khandu said the Centre’s Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) would be a game-changer for the sector and the state government would immensely benefit from the flagship programme, an official communique said.

The new agri-infra fund, the duration of which will be 10 years till 2029, aims to provide a medium-to-long-term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.

Agriculture as a viable sector in the state is still in a nascent stage mostly due to geographical factors. However, in recent pars connectivity has opened up opportunities for farmers and is turning agriculture into a viable economic activity, the chief minister said.

Khandu requested the ministry to handhold the state in establishing cold-chain facilities across the state under the AIF.

He reasoned that due to the state’s vast geographical area, cultivable pockets are located far and wide that calls for a robust cold-chain network to transport and preserve agriculture, as well as horticulture, produces.

Also welcoming the Centre’s push for oil palm cultivation in a mission mode, the chief minister said that as per a survey conducted by a central team in 2019, Arunachal Pradesh has at least 1.33 lakh hectares feasible for the commercial cultivation of oil palm.

Khandu further said that as per records, only about 5,000 hectares have been used for oil palm cultivation, most of which are lying abandoned at the moment.

With the renewed intention and planning of the Central government, this can be revived for doubling the income of farmers by ensuring an assured market.

Further, the state government is in touch with a few of the erstwhile investors to establish their oil palm factories.