Revival of the agriculture sector is one of the thrust areas in the state budget for 2012- 13 moved by Finance Minister K.M.Mani in the Assembly on Monday.

In his budget presentation, Mr.Mani has earmarked Rs.100 crore for an integrated agricultural development scheme to improve the production of paddy, vegetables and tuber crops. Declaring tender coconut water as the official drink of Kerala, he announced a scheme to make coconut farming remunerative by grouping coconut farmers into societies.

The budget proposes the adoption of high tech methods to combat climate change and ensure higher productivity and better quality of agricultural produce. It has allocated Rs.10 crore for the establishment of rice bio parks to boost paddy production in Alappuzha and Palakkad districts.

The parks incorporating rice production units, manufacture of cattle feed, power generation from paddy husk and mushroom cultivation, is proposed to be implemented through special companies for public- private- farmer partnerships. Technology support would be provided by the M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).

An amount of Rs.15 cr has been allocated for three coconut bio parks to be set up, one each in south, central and north Kerala to revive the flagging production of coconut. The scheme seeks to achieve a two to three fold increase in productivity. Introduction of value- added products like virgin coconut oil, coconut powder, coconut chips, coconut milk and milk powder, coir products and geotex and promotion of cluster farming are other objectives.

Mr.Mani announced an outlay of Rs.45 cr for the greenhouse scheme, a state- wide project to ensure year- round production of vegetables by farming under controlled conditions. Three greenhouses, costing Rs.4.5 lakh each, are proposed to be set up in each panchayat. The state and central governments would subsidise 75 per cent of the cost.

An international research and training centre for below sea level farming in Kuttanad is proposed to be set up in association with MSSRF at Kumarakom at a cost of Rs.10 cr. Mr.Mani has earmarked Rs.175 cr for the Kuttanad package and Rs.40 cr for the development of kole paddy fields in Thrissur.

Allied sectors

The budget proposes an outlay of Rs.211 cr for 22 projects in the animal husbandry sector. A multi speciality mobile veterinary clinic, emergency veterinary care service and calf adoption scheme are the highlights of the package. The dairy sector has been allocated Rs.35 cr for various projects. Construction of milk sheds and fodder cultivation are key projects.

The Kerala Veterinary University has been allocated Rs.40 cr and Rs.5.22 cr has been earmarked for hi tech dairy farms at Kolahalamedu and Kulathupuzha.

Fisheries

The budget has announced an integrated scheme to ensure the safety of seagoing fishermen. A control and surveillance mechanism, vessel tracking system and safety equipment for fishermen are the highlights of the proposal. All fishing vessels will be equipped with wireless or mobile units. VHF towers would be established at Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam for fishermen to communicate with ships, fisheries stations, coastal police stations and the Coast Guard.

Mr.Mani announced an ambitious scheme costing rs.13 cr to boost inland fishing from 75000 to 2,50,000 tonnes. A cold chain network and 50 new fish markets are other major proposals.

The budget proposes an outlay of Rs.20 cr for the completion of fishing harbours at Thalai, Chetuva, Muthalapozhy and Cheruvathur and a new harbour at Tanur.