What is your explanation for the West Bengals agricultural miracle?
Our main has been to target the small farmer. Land reforms as well as revitalisation of the panchayat system have been our main tasks. We have been able to do this because we have the power under the Constitution. We do not, for example, have power over big industry. In the future we have to think in terms of cooperative farming.
Would you compare this with Punjabs green revolution?
In Punjab there were no land reforms like in West Bengal. In Bengal, everybody has got something. In addition, social forestry animal husbandry and vegetable processing have been beneficial to the small farmer.
Is it the small farmer who has made this possible?
The peasants are happy. Of course, farms that are too small are no good. But now everybody at least owns land because of our efforts. This has great psychological value. We have to step up our irrigation efforts and convince the farmer to cultivate two to three varieties of crops. The land is shrinking.
Are you satisfied with the process?
I am very hopeful. Thirty to 50 per cent of the land is now irrigated. Soon we will be able to cover the entire state. There has been a great deal of change in the life of the small peasant. He has been able to assert himself through panchayats, which are working very smoothly.