Says failure to absorb changes such as mechanisation cost State dear

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Monday that the government was considering a proposal to equip the Department of Agriculture with a division for agricultural engineering and technology.

Speaking after inaugurating a national seminar on ‘Recent trends in agricultural mechanisation', organised by the Kerala chapter of the Institution of Engineers- India, (IEI), he said Kerala had paid a heavy price for its failure to absorb changes in the agriculture sector.

The State, he said, had little to be proud of in the farm sector, except in the case of rubber.

“By turning our backs on mechanisation, we squandered away the opportunity to improve agricultural production and productivity. While other States surged ahead by embracing technological aids, we failed to embrace changes even in our neighbourhood despite the acute shortage of manpower in farmlands like Kuttanad. The machines that were acquired later had turned out to be unsuitable for local conditions”.

Mr. Chandy said the Krishi Bhavans set up at the panchayat level to boost agricultural production had not yielded the desired results. As a result, he observed, Kerala was still dependent on neighbouring States for grains, eggs, meat and vegetables. “Today, the agricultural sector in Kerala is ready to embrace change. The government is prepared to extend all possible support to boost agriculture.”

Mr. Chandy handed over an agricultural tool kit to a gardener to mark the inauguration of a project named ‘A farm machine for every household'.

Presiding over the function, Minister for Agriculture K.P. Mohanan exhorted local self-government institutions to come forward to promote agriculture.

He stressed the need for new technologies like mist irrigation to be utilised at the village level.

Exhibition

K. Muraleedharan, MLA, inaugurated an exhibition on mechanised agricultural equipment organised in connection with the seminar.

S. Radhakrishnan, chairman, Kerala chapter, IEI; K.S. Udayakumar, member, division of Agricultural Engineering; K.C. Shashidhar, Chief General Manager, NABARD; K.R.Viswambharan, Vice- Chancellor, Kerala Agricultural University; M. Sivaswamy, Dean; and V.Ganesan, Special Officer, Kuttanad Package, were present at the inaugural function.

The exhibition features a variety of mechanised equipment and hand tools used by farmers and gardeners.

Apart from the KAU, agencies such as the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Kerala Livestock Development Board, Kelappaji College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology and private manufacturers have put up stalls at the exhibition.

The products on display include tractors, combine harvesters, mechanical rice planters, irrigation equipment, paddy thresher, sprayers, balers, tillers, brush cutters, hole diggers, iron plough, hedge trimmer, coconut tree climber and power weeder.

Keywords: farm sector