The role of mechanisation in improving crop yield and making agriculture more profitable and environment-friendly will be the focus of an all-India seminar to be held here on August 29 and 30 under the auspices of the Institution of Engineers, Kerala Agricultural University and Department of Agriculture.

The seminar on ‘Recent trends in agricultural mechanisation for efficiency improvement' will provide a platform for discussions on the relevance of machinery in irrigation, soil and water conservation, agricultural processing, dairy farming, fodder cultivation and waste management.

Addressing reporters here on Friday, S. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Kerala chapter, Institution of Engineers (India), J. Umasankar, secretary and K.S. Udayakumar, member, Division of Agricultural Engineering, said the shortage of agricultural labour, increase in wages, poor efficiency in production and the hike in the cost of fertilizer and pesticides were responsible for the crisis facing the agricultural sector in India. They said mechanisation offered a means to reduce the cost of production and increase yield. They said the seminar would also focus on value-addition of farm produce and marketing through a network. An exhibition of modern farm equipment would be organised in connection with the event. The exhibition would seek to popularise mechanised equipment, ergonomically-designed tools and modern irrigation systems. The organisers stressed the need for a 25-year plan for the agriculture and animal husbandry sectors in Kerala. The plan included interest-free loan and subsidy for farm equipment, agricultural engineering workshops in all districts, conservation of water bodies, harnessing non-conventional sources of energy, low cost methods for procurement and marketing of farm produce, watershed development and development of silos and biogas plants.