‘Dwindling number of farming families a cause for concern’
Speakers at the inauguration of a three-day agriculture machinery fair have expressed concern over the dwindling number of agriculture families as the youth were drifting away from farming.
The Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO) and Arecanut Research and Development Foundation (ARDF) have organised the “krishi yantra mela II 2012” on the premises of Vivekananda College of Engineering and Technology in Puttur.
ARDF president D. Veerendra Heggade, who inaugurated the fair here on Friday, said high production costs faced by farmers were a matter of concern. There was a need to increase productivity within the existing landholdings. He said advancements in technology should help farmers increase productivity.
Mr. Heggade said private companies should come forward to sponsor research and development in agriculture. There had been some instances of reverse migration (back to agriculture from cities) in recent years. As arecanut growers faced dearth of skilled workers to peel arecanut, arecanut mills in rural areas should be set up on the lines of paddy mills.
Mangalore MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said that 3,500 acres of farmland had been lost to industries in Mangalore taluk in recent years. He said that a majority of research, development, and innovations in agriculture were done by farmers and not by scientists working for reputed institutes.
Campco president Konkodi Padmanabha said that according to the data provided by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on farm lending in the country, the share of nationalised banks stood at only 44 per cent and co-operative banks at 56 per cent. This called for introspection by the nationalised banks about their role as promoters of agriculture.
The Union government should take steps to encourage banks to lend more to the farm sector.
Mr. Padmanabha said that Campco was planning to introduce a diploma course in cooperative law and management, to churn out qualified personnel for better co-operative management. Its modalities would have to be worked out, he said.
A mini paddy transplanter, weighing about 20 kg exhibited by SELCO Foundation, has caught the attention of many farmers at the fair. According to Sam Cocks, Principal Mechanical Engineer, SELCO Labs, Ujire, the import cost of the transplanter stood at Rs. 27,000. He said it could cover an acre in eight hours. It was best suited for farmers with small holdings.
“This is what we needed,” said Mohan, a farmer from Sagar in Shimoga district about the China-made machine. He said that farmers were looking for small and affordable machines. If the machine could be produced in India itself they would be more affordable, he said.
Students from many engineering colleges had exhibited their prototype machines at the fair.
According to H.S. Srinivas, convener of the fair, there were 155 stalls at the fair: 39 by innovators, 22 by engineering colleges, and 94 by commercial establishments, including agriculture equipment manufacturers.