Five-day farmers' conference and exhibition inaugurated

Farmers must take to the latest technology and utilise modern methods of farming and sophisticated equipment to increase productivity, said A. Tamilarasi, Minister for Adi Dravidar Welfare.

Delivering inaugural address of five-day ‘ATMA Kharif 2010 farmers conference' organised at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) here on Sunday, she said that the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) had introduced many schemes to aid farmers.

Noting the large women participation in the conference, she said that this showed that they were being empowered by the self-help group (SHG) movement, which is being actively encouraged by the State Government. More than 10,000 SHGs would be formed next year with a funding of Rs. 10 crore, she said.

A total of Rs. 4,181 crore was given away as crop loans through cooperative societies alone last year. Further, while the total amount for crop loan given out last year was Rs. 2,013 crore, the current year's target has been pegged at Rs. 2,500 crore. Acceding to farmer's demands, the Minimum Support Price for sugarcane and paddy had been substantially increased. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) regime went to great lengths to safeguard the interests of farming community, said Ms. Tamilarasi.

Speaking earlier, P. Murugesaboopathi, Vice-Chancellor, TNAU – Coimbatore, said that the growth of population in the country was 1.8 per cent with agriculture sector growing at 2.2 per cent. Assuring that the declining numbers of farmers was not a major issue, he said that the United States had only 10 per cent of its population engaged in agriculture.

Israel, a country that sees only 90 mm of annual rainfall, was now exporting agricultural produce through judicious use of water. However, India, despite receiving between 850 mm and 1,000 mm of rainfall, was importing food.

A team of consultants from Israel undertook research at water-deficient districts such as Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar, following which their modern methods of farming were being implemented in these districts, informed Mr. Murugesaboopathi.

C. Kamaraj, District Collector, said that the 10{+t}{+h} Five Year Plan had unveiled many initiatives focussing on agriculture sector. The yield per acre in Madurai district had gone up following the adoption of System of Rice Intensification (SRI), he added.

P. Sankaralingam, Joint Director (Agriculture), P. Moorthy, Sholavandhan MLA, K. P. T. Ganesan, Chairman, Tamil Nadu Agriculture Marketing Board, P. Ashok Kumar, Chairman, District Panchayat Council, K. Vairavan, Dean, Agricultural College and Research Institute, TNAU, spoke.

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