The decision of the agriculture ministry to recognise for the first time contributions of agricultural producers, entrepreneurs and scientists to the development of the farm sector by way of awarding them AIP (Agricultural Important Person) title is a welcome move. As reported in the media, the government would pay tribute to 45 persons with AIP honour annually for their contributions to agriculture, fisheries, livestock and forestry. In line with the CIP (Commercially Important Person) honour, the newly announced AIP tribute for the agriculture sector is mainly to acknowledge accomplishment of persons in their specified areas and also to inspire others to do good things. However, let this be remembered that announcing a few dozens of people as leaders or icons does not mean much to enliven the farm sector unless of course sufficient facilitations are there to make the best of the prospects and opportunities.
One has but to say that in the absence of required facilities for increased productivity and innovation, the expectation of significant improvement in the agri-sector is no more than a pious wish. The sector with its vast range across cultivation, irrigation, harvesting and the marketing of scores of products as well as the operation of the sub-sectors like fisheries, poultry, dairy and forestry comprises a huge assortment of functions each of which needs multifarious support to rise up to the desired level. Needless to say, the ongoing pandemic has badly impacted these vital veins of the economy. Although bumper harvests of paddy, jute and horticulture products have, to some extent, helped tackle the difficulties wrecked by the pandemic, the fisheries, poultry and dairy sub-sectors have also been badly hurt. The government-announced incentives, mostly in the form of soft loans, have reportedly done little to help them ride out the crisis. The government's focus at the moment has to be more on the fisheries and livestock. These are the vital farm sub-sectors that have largely grown on their own, and now if these are not kept afloat with incentive package reaching them without hassle, the entire economy will have to bear the brunt, and not only those involved in them -- tens of thousands of rural families be affected.
As regards innovation, despite many constraints, it cannot be denied that laudable works have been done by the country's agricultural scientists over the years. Still, when it comes to extensive research and replication of research findings on a large scale, there are serious limitations. Fund is obviously a major impeding factor. Mere motivation of farmers is not enough unless they are provided with financial and other resources. An initiative taken up by the government to facilitate procurement of advanced farm machinery is reportedly facing a snag, which is bad news.
So it is clear that adequate facilitations in various forms can bring the prospects of increased productivity and innovation in the agriculture sector. If the process of bringing a significant improvement in agriculture can be expedited, only then can the AIP award make sense.