Mr Conrad pitched for promoting agriculture at the Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog

Shillong, June 17: The Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma today spoke at length on different verticals to take the State forward in the growth trajectory in core sectors including health and agriculture at the 4th meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan Cultural Centre in New Delhi.

The meeting was also attended by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other central Ministers and Chief Ministers including senior officials of NITI Aayog and other officials of different central Ministries and State Government.

He pitched for promoting different agricultural products of Meghalaya and mentioned on the ambitious project of Lakadong turmeric, Apiculture Mission and on the strategies adopted by the State to mitigate climate change with lifestyle changes.

He said that Meghalaya has initiated a campaign for recycle, reuse and reduce apart from sensitizing the mass to have ownership of a tree under the campaign, “One Citizen, One Tree”.He informed the gathering on the need to enhance Act East Policy for boosting trade and commerce in North Eastern States.

Talking about agriculture, the Chief Minister informed that Meghalaya has done well in distribution of soil health cards (2015-17) and has been able to distribute 2,13,548 soil health cards out of the target of 2,09,561, thereby having an achievement of 101.90 percent.

He said that in the second cycle (2017-19) distribution of soil health cards to farmers at present is 24.14 percent and all efforts are being made by the government to achieve the target. He informed that three static soil testing laboratories, three mobile soil-testing units and two more static soil- testing laboratories have been proposed to Government of India.

“The state government will make all concerted efforts and we will be able to achieve the target for distribution of soil health cards to all the farmers within the timeline prescribed,” he said.

The objectives of the Soil Health Card are, To issue soil health card every two years to all farmers of the state so as to provide a basis to address nutrients deficiencies in fertilization practices, To diagnose soil fertility constraints using standardized procedures for sampling uniformly across the State and analysis of block level fertilizer recommendations in targeted districts.

This to develop and promote soil test based nutrients management in the Districts for enhancing nutrients used efficiency,  To build capacities of District and State level Staff and of progressive farmers for promotion of nutrients management practices and to provide information to farmers on soil fertility along with recommendation for application or plan nutrient.

He informed the gathering that the State has more than 125 rural/agricultural haats and these markets lack in basic infrastructures such as fencing, proper market stalls, approach roads, godowns, cold storage facilities, parking spaces and garbage disposal system.

“The state government has leveraged various funds both from the centre and the state schemes to improve the market infrastructure like construction of Integrated Farmers Market, Lay-by markets along national highways and four Farmers Markets across the state,” he said.

He also informed that the state government has taken steps to promote Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs) and under the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Easter Region (MOVCDNER) launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the state has been able to establish 12 Farmer Producers Companies (FPCs) covering 6000 hectares in 125 villages.

“Under the Meghalaya Livelihood and Access to Markets Project the State government is undertaking construction of 250 kms of roads to improve market accessibility in all rural development blocks. This is being done in convergence mode and using plastic cell technology”, he added.

The Chief Minister informed that the state government has taken measures to ensure that works taken up under MGNREGA by the Village Employment Councils (VECs) are focused on water related activities. “Many villages have placed water security as their focus areas for taking up works under MGNREGA. These works include construction of water conservation structures like check dams, wells, ponds and rejuvenation of water sources through plantation,” he said.

During 2017-18 an amount of Rs. 1134 crores was spent out of which Rs. 540 crores was spent on water related activities. During 2018-19, an amount of Rs. 1200 crores has been earmarked out of which Rs. 720 crores will be spent on water conservation related activities.

Villages that have undertaken such works have not only benefitted by increasing water security, but the overall improvement of local economy and more importantly VECs and villages are imbibed with the spirit of water conservation, protection of catchment areas, preservation of environment and other allied activities.

He told that under the Ayushmann Bharat program, the State has approved for strengthening of 32 numbers of Health Sub-Centers as the Health and Wellness Centers. In Ri-Bhoi District, which is an Aspirational District, 2 PHCs namely Umden PHC and Mawhati PHC are being converted to Health and Wellness Centres.

He said that to implement the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission (PMRSSM) the state has decided to opt for the Insurance Mode instead of the Trust mode. “The State government has signed the MoU with the Government of India on the 14th June, 2018 to converge the Megha Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) with the PMRSSM to cover all eligible households and to increase the insurance cover from Rs. 2.8 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs covering 3, 39,779 households identified by the Government of India with the balance number of beneficiaries being covered by the state government with the same insurance cover”, he informed.

He informed that under Poshan Abhiyaan which aims to address the problem of malnutrition in a targeted manner by reducing stunting, low birth weight and anaemia amongst the children between 0-6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant and nursing mothers in a phased manner, the state has covered five districts, which remaining six districts are being taken up in the 2nd phase.

“The Mission Indradhanush is being implemented in all the Districts of Meghalaya and the overall saturation till date for vaccination of children is 83.66%. As far as the aspirational District of Ri Bhoi is concerned, the vaccination of children stands 89%. For vaccination of pregnant women, the achievement so far is 75% for the state and for Ri Bhoi District it is 96%”, he informed

“The State Government is preparing the Vision Document and the District Action Plan along with the District Indicators for Ri Bhoi District covering the critical social sectors already identified by the NITI Aayog like health, education, water resources, skill, agriculture etc to achieve the SDG goals by 2030”, he added.

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