New Delhi: Praising Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for setting up the first of a kind special cabinet on agriculture, agri expert Mangala Rai has said farm sector growth rate in Bihar can double from 5.8 percent to 11.6 percent in the next three years.

“I do not see any reason why agricultural growth rate of Bihar can’t be doubled from 5.8 percent at present in the next three years, provided all the logistics thought of for integrated growth of agriculture, there are properly harnessed,” said Mangla Rai, former Director General of ICAR and who has been appointed as Agriculture Advisor to the Bihar CM, told the reporters.

Through improving irrigation system, judicious use of fertilizer and making available quality seeds to farmers, the average productivity of staple food grain crops like wheat and rice could be easily doubled to 4 tonnes per hectare in the near future, he said.

Rai, who had made a comprehensive presentation on speeding farm growth in the eastern state at the special cabinet on April 26 last, said there was huge possibility of increasing production of veggies and fruits in the state.

He also mentioned the possibility of harnessing potential in the field of fishery, livestocks and poultry in Bihar.

Chaired by the CM, the historic cabinet meeting on agriculture was attended by Deputy Chief Minister S K Modi, besides 17 other ministers of different departments, including water resources, irrigation, energy, rural works, sugarcane industry, animal husbandry and disaster management to draw an agriculture model for the state.

Agriculture department is the nodal department. The meeting decided to set up 14 committees on Water, cooperative, agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, disaster management, soil conservation, research, bio-tech, information technology and, market storage and processing.

“These committees have been told to send recommendations before the next special cabinet on agriculture on June 15, which will discuss them comprehensively,” he added.

A world-renowned agri expert, Rai has served as President of the prestigious National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, which is a premier body of over 460 eminent agricultural scientists in India and abroad including 5 World Food laureates.

He has also worked in the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet and on the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.

Rai said the Bihar agriculture model would be different from those of Punjab and Haryana, suitable to its agro climatic condition.

“Punjab and Haryana, cradle of Green Revolution of 70s, are now facing second generation problem with carbon content of soil degenerating...Bihar will have its own model keeping future safeguards in consideration,” he added.

Highlighting the existence of rich resources for farm growth in Bihar, Rai said the rich soil of Northern Bihar had no parallel in any other parts of the country.

Besides, there is a possibility of increasing fish production by three-fold from two lakh tonnes at present by making available quality seeds and judicious use of water, he added.

Despite being an agriculture driven economy, he said farm sector had been a neglected subject in the state so far as pointed out by low budgetary allocation in the annual budget.

He said Nitish Kumar government is making a concerted effort to improve agriculture output by enhancing budgetary allocation on agriculture to Rs 845 crore in 2011-12 as compared to a meager Rs 20 crore in 2004-5.

“Hitherto known for lying at the bottom on developmental index, a resurgent Bihar will soon usher in Agriculture revolution, which will leave even the developed agri state behind,” Rai said.