Even though agricultural exports are taking place in the country and the State, the volume is not something to crow about. They have to be streamlined to bring more income to the farmers, Pongalur N. Palanisamy, Minister for Rural Industries and Animal Husbandry, said here on Friday.

Inaugurating a seminar on “Promoting Agro Exports from Western Zone of Tamil Nadu,” organised jointly by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), he urged the exporters to make farmers aware of what needs to be exported to which country and accordingly store and sell the produce to get a good price.

“Day by day the number of people who take up farming is declining. In spite of the various subsidies and loan waivers offered by the government, farming still continues to be uneconomical,” the Minister lamented.

The farmers of Tamil Nadu were finding it difficult to use modern machinery and technologies in their small holdings. Nevertheless, he urged the farmers to make use of the latest technologies like System of Rice Intensification, precision farming, and others to take up sowing of quality seeds and adoption of latest technologies offered by the TNAU to increase their yield manifold.

P. Murugesa Boopathi, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said that in order to reduce wastage of agricultural produce and ensure higher returns to farmers, and to attain higher foreign revenue for the country, Indian agriculture had to be transformed by increasing the export of agricultural produce.

“Though Indian exports in agricultural and allied products have increased from Rs.284 crore in 1949-50 to Rs.58,959 crore in 2006-07, India has not attained a prominent position in agricultural exports. This is because most of the agricultural produce are not processed but consumed fresh unlike other countries,” he said.

Pointing out that the share of India in world agricultural trade was less than one per cent, the Vice-Chancellor called for putting in place a detailed action plan that would include identifying potential importing countries, and the demand for each produce in the local, national, and world market.

He also urged the exporters to come forward to engage farmers in contract farming to facilitate better transfer of technologies, usage of quality inputs, better crop management practices, and above all safeguard them from price volatility and ensure guaranteed price for their products.

A. Sakthivel, President and Chairman (Southern Region), FIEO, said that such seminars were being planned to make farmers aware of the export potential their produce had. “Such a seminar was first held in Chennai. This is the second. The third will be held in Madurai. Farmers will be briefed on the finance, export credit guarantee, production technologies, and procedures for exporting.”

The sharing of knowledge and procedures would be an on-going process and would not stop with the seminar, he added.

M. Paramathma, Director of Research, TNAU, and N. Ajjan, Director, CARDS, TNAU, spoke.

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