Efforts to boost agro-production in vast riverine areas in Bihar

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Patna, Oct 25 (UNI) A new beginning and a ray of hope on the horizon awaits the farmers of Diara (riverine) areas in Bihar as the state government has geared up to tap its vast potential to change the face of the state's agro-production scenario.

The State Farmers Commission has launched an ambitious project to study the 11.76 lakh hectares of Diara areas which covers 20 per cent of the cultivable land in Bihar and are prone to recurrent floods making it a high-risk zone for agriculture.

The ecology of the area is also quite different from favourable conditions of other areas where farmers face various problems in crops and livestock production and are handicapped in switching over from traditional to modern methods.

The diara areas of the state are mostly located on banks of the Ganges (5.33 lakh hectares), Burhi Gandak (2.55 lakh hectares), Gandak (1.40 lakh hectares), Kosi (1.45 lakh hectares) and the Sone river (1.33 lakh hectares). The areas are spread over in 21 districts of the state, including Patna, Bhagalpur, Buxar, Rohtas, Gopalganj, Vaishali, Begusarai and West Champaran.

Preliminary assessment of the diara areas indicates that only 10 per cent of its arable land has irrigation facilities, while farmers in the remaining areas have no option but to depend on the mercy of God. Recurrent floods are another major threat to the areas but silt of the some rivers increase the fertility of the land.

Madhusudan Sharma, a farmer in diara areas of the West Champaran district said the Neelgai was posing the biggest threat to the agriculture sector and it was proving to be even more devastating than floods. According to a rough estimate, about 18,000 Neelgai are giving sleepless nights to the farmers in the area as they often roam in big herds and damage standing crops worth crores of rupees, causing huge financial loss to them.

''We cannot hunt down the Neelgai as the law prevents us from doing so,'' Mr Sharma said, adding that the state government did not pay any attention to control this menace which was posing serious threat to the livelihood of hundreds of farmers in the area.

''The state government should ensure the taming of Neelgai by the forest department as they are more devastating for the crops than the recurrent floods,'' he felt.

Similarly, Sadanand Chaudhary, a farmer of Bariarpur village of Munger district, said the diara areas mostly remained cut off from the township as the state government did not pay much attention to construction of approaching roads.

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