VILLAGE VOICE: The Bihar government sets up a call centre to address farmers’ problems
With floods becoming an annual feature that destroy standing crops on hundreds of acres of land and badly affect the farmers, Bihar government has started a call centre to resolve difficulties faced by the farming community.
A joint effort of the Department of Agriculture and Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), the centre is situated in Mithapur, Patna where 12 experts will be available on 10 phone lines for the farmers. Interestingly, if a query cannot be answered immediately, it will be taken up by an agricultural expert at a later date.
In August, floods triggered by heavy rains in Nepal affected 158 panchayats spread over six districts in Bihar bordering Nepal, impacting 1.53 lakh people, according to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Losses in farming are discouraging young people from adopting this profession and they are migrating to cities in search of better job opportunities. “Since our village is situated on the banks of the river, we face a flood-like situation every year. It destroys the crops either completely or to the maximum. Aid from the government faces political hurdles and never reaches us. On the other hand, fertilisers are provided when the crop is almost ready,” rued farmer Raj Kishore Yadav.
To tackle this situation, the State government has decided to provide farmers with 5,459 quintals of advance paddy seeds at a subsidised rate under the Chief Minister’s Seeds Rapid Expansion Scheme. According to the State’s Agricultural Department, 90,996 farmers have been selected to avail the 90 per cent subsidy on paddy seeds that will be provided through the Bihar State Seeds Corporation.
As India’s most flood-prone state, 76 per cent of the population in north Bihar lives under the recurring threat of flood devastation. The area prone to floods in Bihar (before its bifurcation with Jharkhand), as assessed by Rashtriya Barh Ayog (RBA), is 42.60 lakh hectares. Every year, besides the heavy rains, water released by Nepal is believed to be another major reason for the floods.