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KAU plans online unit to focus on farm trade

By Our Staff Reporter

The Agriculture Minister, K.R. Gouri, visiting a stall of the Department of Agriculture opened as part of the State-level farmers training programme and inauguration of the agri clinic project at the St. Peter's Higher Secondary School, Kolenchery, on Saturday.

KOCHI, NOV. 20. The Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) plans to start an online division which will focus on agricultural trade as part of its education and research activities based on the recommendations of the M. S. Swaminathan Commission Report on World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its impact on the State's agriculture.

This was stated by the Agriculture Minister, K. R. Gouri, on Saturday. She was speaking to reporters after inaugurating a two-day farmers' training programme and agro clinic project in Vadavukode block panchayat at St. Peter's HSS, Kolencherry, hear here.

A sum of Rs. two crores has been earmarked in the State budget for the project, said the Minister.

She pointed out that farmers in the State should gear up to face the challenges posed by the markets being thrown open under the changed circumstances required by the WTO. Increasing farm productivity was crucial in this scenario, according to the Minister.

Mobile laboratory

Farmers in Ernakulam district will soon get the benefits of a mobile soil-testing laboratory, she said.

The Minister said that steps are on for compiling and publishing a soil map of the State after conducting a sample survey jointly by the Kerala State Land Use Board and the Agriculture Department. The survey in Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad districts was already over and was going on in Kollam and Alappuzha districts. The survey for Ernakulam district will begin soon, she said.

At present, nine mobile soil-testing labs are functioning in all the districts except for Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Wayanad and Kasaragod. The mobile testing labs would help the farmers to independently assess the quality of their own land and decide upon the nature of fertilizers to be used.

Agro clinics

T. H. Mustafa MLA, who had initiated the pilot project for agro clinics in Vadavukode block, described the scheme in his presidential address. The agro clinics, conceived as a collective of farmers on a ward basis, is aimed at enabling farmers to be self-sufficient in getting all possible benefits promptly. The funds from the MP and MLA Local Area Development schemes should be made available for the project through the district panchayats and local Krishi Bhavans, Mr. Mustafa pointed out.

The District Panchayat president, K. B. Muhammedkutty, who inaugurated the agriculture exhibition, said that the Vadavukode block panchayat would be given a harvester before March 2005.

The keynote address was made by the Planning Board member, C.P. John.

Cattle exhibition

The cattle exhibition and competition, held as part of the programme, was inaugurated by P. Anand, Director of Dairy Development.

Verghese P. K. from Kadungassery, Sathi Kunjappan from Kolencherry and Shaju Verghese from Thammanimattam, who won the first three places in the category of milking cows, were given prizes by the Minister.

Mr. Muhammedkutty gave away the prizes for the first three places in the section of heifers to Raghavan Nair from Kolencherry, P. K. Scaria from Kadamattom and K. P. George from Kinginimattam.

The pilot project for agro clinics was submitted formally by P. S. Sasi, deputy director of Agriculture. The Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK) chief executive officer, Ashokkumar Thekkan, the Vadavukode Block panchayat president, Benny Paul, the Poothrikka Grama panchayat president, V.K. Raju, the Aikkaranadu grama panchayat president, N.P. Verghese, the Thiruvaniyoor grama panchayat president, K.A. Chellamma, the district panchayat member, John P. Mani, the principal agriculture officer, N. Vijayan and the block panchayat and grama panchayat members offered felicitations.

Classes were led by R. Gopalakrishnan, former Director of Research, KAU, Mannuthy, T.R. Gopalakrishnan, associate professor, KAU, Abdul Aziz, Director, PPI, VFPCK and Annie Eappen, Coconut Development Board.

The training programme will conclude on Sunday and the Fisheries and Sports Minister, Dominic Presentation, will inaugurate the valedictory session.

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