Self-Sufficiency In Food

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Goa cannot become self-reliant by sending officials to villages

THE government announces schemes but usually they are poorly implemented. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has announced that designated state officials will now visit village panchayats to guide and facilitate people in availing benefits of various state and central government schemes. The officials will be called ‘karmayogi adhikaris’ and directed to spend four Sundays every month to guide the villagers. Their duties will include facilitating people in achieving the Atmanirbhar Bharat and Swayampurna Goy schemes. The state has launched the twin mission to be self-reliant in everyday essentials. The Chief Minister expressed the optimism that implementation of the two schemes effectively will help the state in shaking off the dependence on other states for essential food commodities.  The state officials deputed for the purpose would help people in availing schemes linked to agriculture, horticulture, fish culture and other schemes. They would have to serve in villages for one year and help villagers achieve self-sufficiency in food through even and effective distribution of the benefits of the various schemes.

Goa has come to depend more and more on supplies from other states owing to decline in agricultural output and rise in population. Although the Chief Minister says attaining self-sufficiency in food items is not a difficult task if various organisations in the co-operative and agriculture sectors join hands and work together, the problems are deeper and it will need a revolution to transform the whole food production scene. It is not the first time that a government has promised self-sufficiency in food and perhaps would not be the last. Such announcements are made at regular intervals but they are forgotten with the passage of time, and new slogans and ambitious schemes are announced to attract people by the party in power. Had the government been serious about implementing the schemes for agriculture and allied areas Goa could have attained self-sufficiency to a reasonable limit long ago. It is hard to ignore the fact that regardless of schemes, many farmers do not cultivate their fields. One of the biggest problems faced by them is non-availability and high wages of farm labour. Despite a very high rate of unemployment Goa faces labour shortage and has to depend on migrant labour force who too shun work in the fields.

The idea to send officials for work on Sundays to guide villagers in achieving the government’s goal of self-sufficiency and self-reliance appears to be over-ambitious, if not fantastic. Will the officials sacrifice their holidays and families to help others? How will the government compensate them for their work on holidays? Working continuously for a long time without holidays will not only be tiresome but also make them disoriented. One year is too long a period for any official to work on all Sundays and the idea may not find favour with them. The government would have to make panchayat secretaries and other panchayat staff work with the karmayogis on all Sundays to achieve the desired goal.

While the announcement of sending karmayogi adhikaris to the villages has been made nothing has been said about the ranks from which they will be drawn. Will they be gazetted officials who will command respect of the village-level officials? The government has to realise that in its ambition to make Goa self-reliant it should not overburden the state officials as such a move could be counterproductive; the officials might not be able to deliver the intended results. Let us hope that the government first ensures that every village has a panchayat secretary so as to ensure that villages promptly get the certificates and other documents required to avail benefits of various government schemes. Many panchayats have been waiting for full-time secretaries. The officials with multiple charges in the panchayats tend to neglect their duties by claiming to be working in other villages under their charge. There have to be concerted efforts to ensure the implementation of the schemes at the ground level by the officials at the panchayats. There are 190 village panchayats in the state. The government has to do much more than appoint officials to push implementation of schemes in the panchayats. The driver of food self-sufficiency is the farmer. The government has to motivate the farmers.