Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in his maiden radio talk-show ‘Lokvani’, highlighted the efforts and initiatives being taken by the government to change the state of rural economy for better. The Chief Minister gave detailed information about the ambitious Suraaji Gaon Yojana. In the first episode of Lokvaani’ that was aired today, Chief Minister answered the questions about agriculture and rural development. During the programme, people congratulated Chief Minister for his historic decisions such as hiking paddy support price to Rs 2,500, increased wage rate for tendupatta collection to Rs 4,000 per standard sack, and declaration of general holidays on traditional festivals of Chhattisgarh that is Hareli, Teeja, Mata Karma Jayanti, Chhath Pooja, and on International Day for World’s Indigenous People. Chief Minister said that agriculture is the foundation of state’s economy. When farmers get good price for agricultural produce, the money flows from village to the city markets. Agriculture also keeps the factories running. This is the reason we have adopted the strategy to economically empower farmers and strengthen state’s economy through them. Chief Minister said “We have procured paddy at Rs 2,500 per quintal, we have waived off irrigation tax and decided to go for one time settlement so that farmers may be relieved of the financial burden and they may live their lives with the respect and dignity they deserve. Transformation of rural areas is not possible with a step or two. This is the reason state government is focusing on long-term strategy, focusing on institutionalized development of ‘Narva, Garva, Ghurva, Bari’, including farm land improvement, income through animal husbandry, establishing food processing units in villages, value addition in agricultural produce and permanent arrangement for water supply management in the priority list. Chief Minister said that with the help of science and technology, we will revive 1000 ‘Narva’ of the state. Big-small water bodies and structures will be built for rainwater harvesting. Chhattisgarh has 20,000 ‘naala’, 285 rivers and 85 all-weather rivers. Despite that, irrigated area is only 31 percent. We are unable to utilize the rainwater. Lack of water management is hindering the process of tube-well recharge. Continuous water supply in ‘Narva’ will result in improvement in water table. Roughly 44 percent of Chhattisgarh is covered in forests. Hence, we should create such a water structure that does not violate Forest Act. The Chief Minister said that 200 villages were marked for construction of cowsheds, 900 of these cowsheds have already been inaugurated. To save farms from cattle grazing, farmers do fencing around their farms, which increases the input cost of farming. Some farmers have stopped doing crop rotation after paddy, fearing cattle grazing in their farms. Keeping in view the problems faced by the famers, the state government has decided to revive cowsheds in the villages. Cow-dung can be utilized for vermin-compost, and other medicinal products, which will help cowshed committee to generate income. This will promote organic farming and save people from the harmful effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on food crops. Cowsheds will also help in solving the problems faced by common people because of cattle roaming in open. On the question of insufficient rainfall during this monsoon, the Chief Minister said that farmers should not lose hope or get disheartened in any circumstances. In the areas with scanty rainfall, seeds of the species that grow in less amount of time and require lesser quantity of water have been provided. To benefit farmers under ‘Crop Insurance Scheme’, officials concerned have been directed to do proper inspection by August 15, so that no farmers remains deprived and premiums are deposited on time. Chief Minister said that in kharif season, farmers have been provided nearly 8 lakh quintal seeds and 7 lakh metric ton fertilizers through cooperative societies and other institutions. Chhattisgarh is a power surplus state. Major steps have been taken in the state in last six months to improve power distribution. State government had decided to complete construction works of 316 new sub-stations in Chhattisgarh, out of which 280 substations have already been constructed under various government schemes. New transformers have been installed in 210 old power substations. Implementation of the scheme for providing free electricity is being continued by the present government, and five lakh farmers are getting benefited from the same. Farmers belonging to SC/ST are being provided full concession on electricity bills.