Shillong, Aug 11 (IANS): Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Thursday said over Rs 1,000 crore has been disbursed to the farming communities in the state through different welfare schemes including the state's flagship scheme 'FOCUS', in the last four years.
Addressing a programme here, he said that FOCUS being the biggest welfare programme for the benefit of 4.5 lakh farmers, the state government realised the importance of the programme, and decided to provide additional direct transfer of Rs 5,000 each as family benefit to every farming household in the state through the FOCUS plus programme.
He said that under the FOCUS programme, around 18,000 producer groups have been formed across the state and more such groups are being formed.
He added that 2.5 lakh farmer families have reaped the benefits of the scheme.
The Chief Minister said that the farming communities in the state are very upbeat about the programme, which made the government launch FOCUS plus programme on Thursday.
He also said that the Rs 5,000 assistance that is being provided is not any kind of loan and the financial assistance is being provided as seed money for initiating farming and allied activities for income generation.
He further said that through programmes like Northeast Food Show that is being organised annually in Shillong, the state government has been able to promote and showcase different products of the farming communities and those of the entrepreneurs.
Through the different initiatives of the government, the farmers and the entrepreneurs have been linked to markets - nationally and globally, the Chief Minister said.
To boost agri-economic activities by collectivisation of Producer Groups to farm and non-farm produce, the FOCUS originally launched by the Meghalaya government in March last year, according to the officials, it has benefitted 2.5 lakh farmers so far.
Under the FOCUS plus scheme, households would be provided with a FOCUS plus card as an identification and cash transfer of Rs 5,000 as family benefit.
This is an additional benefit over Rs 5,000 to the producer group account from the FOCUS scheme.
Political pundits, however, said that months ahead of the assembly elections, the government led by Sangma's National People's Party undertook various welfare schemes to woo the people including the farmers.