The Hon’ble Chief Minister hands over cheques of equity grant to FPOs

Gangtok, June 18: (IPR) In order to support and encourage Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in the State, the State Government has taken a unique step to provide equity grant to them. Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang handed over cheques of equity grant to all the 28 FPOs in a function organised at Samman Bhawan today.

The program had the presence of Minister for Agriculture and Horticulture Department, Shri Lok Nath Sharma, Political Secretary to HCM Shri Jacob Khaling, Principal Secretary Agriculture and Horticulture Department Shri R. Telang, Secretary, Agriculture Department Shri Rinzing Chewang Bhutia, Secretary, Horticulture Department, Shri M.T. Sherpa, Chief Executive Officer, Sikkim Organic Mission, Dr. S. Anbalagan, and senior officers of the Agriculture Department.

Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang in his address stressed that agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry sectors are being given the highest priority by the Government in the form of incentives and constant support to the farming community. He informed that the Government will soon announce incentives in the agriculture and horticulture sectors similar to what is being provided to dairy farmers for select crops like turmeric, orange, ginger, buckwheat and cardamom.

The Chief Minister lauded the Farmer Producer Organizations for their efforts to ensure the continuous supply of vegetables to the consumers throughout the period of the lockdown. Without their active support, hard work and proper coordination, the people of Sikkim, especially the city dwellers could have faced an acute shortage of vegetables, he maintained. He said that it was encouraging to see many young and educated people actively engaged in the FPOs, and added that there are numerous opportunities which needed to be tapped. He stated that several schemes of the Government of India go unnoticed and unexplored each year and urged the members of the FPOs to avail of all these schemes as well as the opportunities being provided by the State Government. He shared about the Skilled Youth Startup Scheme initiated by the State Government specifically for sectors like agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and homestay tourism. He advised the members of the FPOs to start small business ventures like processing and packaging of agricultural products, which can meet the dual purpose of value addition and also provide employment opportunities at the local level. He assured that the Government will provide all the required support to the FPOs based on their performance.

The Chief Minister emphasised on the need to promote the local economy and work to attain a self-sufficient state. He cited the example of the possibility of setting up of own Maize Seed Production Centre, instead of buying maize seeds from outside. Laying thrust on the idea of ‘Green Economy’, the Chief Minister called for the need to return to the roots and engage in activities like agriculture and animal husbandry.

Responding to demands placed by President of the South-West Organic Marketing Consortium, the Chief Minister announced that storage space will be made available to FPOs in all the market areas of Sikkim. Likewise, transport subsidy will be disbursed timely through concerned agencies and departments. He also maintained that efforts are being made to provide the uninterrupted power supply.

In conclusion, the Chief Minister congratulated the members of the FPOs for receiving the equity grant from the Government to enhance their capacity. He urged the members of the FPOs and the farming community to continue with their activities, duly abiding by all the precautionary guidelines on COVID-19.

Minister for Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry, Shri Lok Nath Sharma in his address thanked the Chief Minister for his continuous support for agriculture related initiatives and for his intervention towards the disbursement of equity grant to all the FPOs in the State.

The Minister reiterated the focus being laid by the Government on agriculture and allied activities to increase the GDP of the State. He called for a cooperative approach in farming to realize the vision of a self-reliant Sikkim. The Minister expressed his gratitude to the members of all the FPOs in the State for their hard work to ensure uninterrupted supply of vegetables to the local markets even during the challenging period of the lockdown.

Earlier, Principal Secretary, Agriculture and Horticulture, Shri R.Telang, in his welcome address, highlighted the role of FPOs as facilitators and aggregators to help the farmers derive optimum benefit from their agricultural produce. He suggested the need to strengthen the FPOs further by enrolling youth and establishing a democratic set up within the organization. He suggested that local area seed production and distribution should be carried out by the respective FPOs to ensure the adaptability of the seed and seedlings to the local environment. He said that this practice would ensure the right price for the seeds and seedlings. He added that cooperative farming is the way forward as it will solve a host of problems related to production and marketing. The Principal Secretary also informed that a proposal for formation of 28 additional FPOs in the State has been approved by the Government of India under the MOVCD-NER scheme.

The programme was also addressed by President, South West Organic Marketing Consortium, Shri Mahendra Dahal, who gave a brief background and objectives of the FPOs.

During the programme, Secretary, Agriculture Department, Shri Rinzing Chewang Bhutia handed over to the Chief Minister a cheque of the Department’s contribution towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to combat COVID-19. It comprised of the one day salary of the officers and staff of the Agriculture Department.

The programme concluded with the vote of thanks proposed by Secretary, Horticulture Department, Shri M.T. Sherpa.

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