The Government of Assam has laid considerable emphasis on the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools for promoting efficiency and transparency, engaging citizens for their ideas and suggestions, improved service delivery through cross departmental interconnection, data analytics for gaining insights for better decision making shares Palit Kumar Borah, Chairman, Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB) and Senior Vice Chairman, National Council of State Agricultural Marketing Board (COSAMB), New Delhi in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).
Give us an overview of Assam’s agro marketing sector.
At present the population of Assam is 3.20 crore. The economy of Assam is largely agriculture based with 70 percent of the population engaged in it. Assam produces both food and cash crops. The principal food crops produces in the state are rice (paddy), maize (corn), pulses, potato, wheat etc. The principal cash crops are tea, jute, betel nut (supari), oilseeds, sugarcane and bamboo. Although rice is the most important and staple crop of Assam, its productivity over the years has increased season over season, while other crops have also seen a considerable increase in productivity as well as land acreage. A similar increase was observed in the production of maize, potato and mustard. The state is also rich in production of horticultural crops, especially vegetables during Rabi season.
The marketing of these crops are performed through the traditional markets and markets established by Market Committees constituted under the Assam Agricultural Produce Marketing Act, 1972. But the organised marketing system could not succeed in the state as three parallel acts control the establishment of markets and marketing of agricultural produce. The farmers of the state feel better to sell their produce in the farm gate, rather to bring in a regulated market enhancing remunerative price. Again, grading of agricultural produce by farmers are sparsely seen for which they are not receiving premium price.
What are some of the farmer welfare schemes taken by the Board in the past few years?
The Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board has taken various initiatives as a measure for farmer welfare, such as establishment of markets with infrastructure (storage and assembling), formation and registration of growers’ societies, distribution of quality seeds, imparting trainings on market led production and post-harvest management system, information of arrivals and price through internet to name a few.
What are the steps taken by you to abolish the system of mediators between farmers and consumers?
To eradicate the mediators, the Board has provided ‘farmers’ shops’ for the registered growers’ societies, by which the members of the societies could sell their farm produce directly to the consumers without involving the middlemen. Such process is being taken in all the district headquarters of the State. Fruits and vegetable wholesale market at Guwahati has already been established and steps have been taken for establishment of organic markets as well. The Board has also taken steps for development of Banana market, Darrangiri, one of the oldest markets in western Assam with all modern infrastructural facilities. On the other hand all initiatives are taken to establish a terminal market in the Barak Valley region at Silchar, where farmers will be facilitated to sell their produce directly.
With the advent of Digital India scheme of the Government of India, what are the technology deployments done in the board?
The Government of Assam has laid considerable emphasis on the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools for promoting efficiency and transparency in its functioning. With a vision to usher in effective, participative and open governance, the Government is committed to renew thrust in adoption of emerging ICT tools and technologies. Establishment of electronic platform for presenting unified face of the Government, for engaging citizens for their ideas and suggestions, improved service delivery through cross departmental interconnection, data analytics for gaining insights for better decision making are some of the key drivers for the next level transformation. As a first step, the Government websites have been standardised and the website of the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board has been integrated with the Government websites under URL https://asamb.assam.gov.in. The Board has taken various ICT initiatives in the line of Digital India with a vision of prompt and quality services, transparency in the system, efficiency at work, human resources development, etc.
“Activities carried out so far are uploading market information in Agmarknet portal, ICT infrastructure development, capacity building of the officials on ICT through training, development and application of software, digitisation of information, extensive use of e-communication etc.”
Activities carried out so far are uploading market information in Agmarknet portal, ICT infrastructure development, capacity building of the officials on ICT through training, development and application of software, digitisation of information, extensive use of e-communication etc.
What are the major agricultural products of Assam which are exported?
The major agricultural produce exported are bao paddy (red rice), scented rice (joha), banana, pineapple, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, orange, seedless and scented lemon (kazi nemu), cucumber, etc.
Moreover, other produce such as black rice, komal chaul (soft rice), bora chaul (sticky rice), jackfruit, turmeric, bhoot chilli (ghost chilli) grown in abundance in the State has export potentiality.