Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma at the launch of FOCUS+.

RESUBELPARA:

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma launched a new scheme called FOCUS+ during a celebration for the success of FOCUS, his flagship initiative, at Resubelpara in North Garo Hills on July 28.

Addressing the function, Sangma said, “Around 60 per cent of the people of our state depend on agriculture. Farmers require different support to face different challenges, while they require proper training to be done, they also require technology interventions to be there. Over the past four and half years, Meghalaya has been making constant progress on various fronts, one of our key priority areas is our farmers.”

“Our farmers’ support initiative FOCUS has provided the much-needed impetus for upscaling of farming activities, results of which are for everyone to see. Initiatives like mission mode projects in lakadong, piggery, milk, spice, ginger and others are providing necessary means to build a support system for our farmers with interventions from farm to market,” the chief minister said.

The CM had also taken to a microblogging site and wrote that FOCUS aims to benefit 4.5 lakh farming households and to transform the lives of farmers.

At Resubelpara, 30 Producer Groups (PG) from the district (10 from each block) received financial assistance under the FOCUS Scheme. Under FOCUS+, households would be provided with a card for identification and a cash transfer of Rs 5,000 as a family benefit. Individuals would need to get registered under a producer group to avail the benefit. This is an additional benefit of over Rs 5,000 to the producer group account from the FOCUS scheme.

“FOCUS is very close to my heart because it helped a large section of our farming community! And FOCUS+ will provide much-needed aid to ensure every family in rural Meghalaya is empowered to realize their true potential. The scheme will provide Rs 5,000 cash benefits to households across the state. This is part of our vision to bring all our farmers under collectivization theme and help them through various interventions, in turn doubling their income,” he said.

“It is also important to support them financially at the grassroot level, because of farmers’ uproar the focus programme was made to form producer groups. And through these groups, individual farmers would get in their group accounts Rs 5,000 each. So this has been going on for the past one year. And different groups have been formed and financial transactions and support have gone to the farmers,” Sangma said.

He also informed the gathering, which saw thousands of farmers and producers in attendance, how FOCUS+ aims to benefit six lakh families in Meghalaya through a financial aid of Rs 5000 per household.

Meghalaya is the only state in the Northeast to have introduced a farmer welfare scheme.

“Now what we have done today is we are launching Focus+ because earlier the benefit was going to the group account. Now the members of these groups will get the benefit directly. So the idea is to give Rs 5,000 to each member in their accounts who are the members of the producer groups. We have done a large number of organising in terms of technology, in terms of training in terms of financial support and loans have been given to the farmers,” he said.

“As a government, we have realised that there are certain products that we have a competitive advantage over, like black pepper, turmeric, ginger. Our focus will be there to produce and market them which have super quality than the others,” he added.

The FOCUS+ scheme, which aims to benefit six lakh families in Meghalaya and help farmers to take up additional agriculture activities and contribute towards Agri Value Chain Development, will formally be rolled out on September 1, the 75th birth anniversary of PA Sangma.