WB says Assam agri project a "success"


Bank claims success in ‘green’ project

First step to green revolution
Guwahati, April 25: The World Bank has said the Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project is an “acknowledged” success in the country and could be a precursor to the green revolution in the state.

The project was launched in Assam with World Bank support in 2005 to improve the profitability of agriculture, the state’s primary economic activity.

“The project co-ordinates the work of various line departments including agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry, irrigation, as well as markets and roads, and is initiating various reforms. In the last two years, the project has been transformed into one of the acknowledged successes in the World Bank’s India portfolio,” Grahame Dixie, the World Bank’s team leader for the project, said in the March issue of the newsletter on World Bank in India.

The $214.33 million project is to conclude by the end of the year after being extended by a year.

Project director Niraj Verma said with the huge agricultural potential of the state, the project could be a precursor to the next Green Revolution.

“Clearly, Assam’s farmers will no longer need to rely solely on the weather gods to earn a good living,” Verma said in the newsletter.

The project’s beneficiaries have doubled their paddy yields.

Earlier, a farmer would have produced nearly 2,000kg of paddy with most of it being used for his own family’s consumption.

His individual paddy production has now increased to over 4,100kg, and an additional 700kg of vegetables are being grown.

“With bountiful groundwater, shallow tubewells are one of the most efficient and cost-effective sources of assured irrigation in Assam, leading to an increase in cropping intensity and production as well,” said H. C. Baishya, agriculture co-ordinator of the project, said.

The project has helped farmers to sell their high-value vegetables in local markets, with the more enterprising taking their produce to Arunachal and Meghalaya, where demand is high.

The fisheries component is doing well too.

The project’s fish intensification programme in ponds, tanks and beels has resulted in a 500 per cent increase in fish production.

“Fishing is in many ways more profitable than agriculture as a pond of one bigha can bring in as much as Rs 60,000, whereas agriculture, by itself, is not as profitable,” says Bimal Sharma, fisheries extension officer, Nagaon district.

Since irrigation is the most important factor for a sustainable increase in productivity, groups of three farmers were helped to install and share a shallow tube well subsidised by the project.

Farmers were also trained in the use of better farming techniques, helped to diversify their crops, buy high-yielding seeds, and adopt appropriate forms of mechanisation, including tractors.


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