"The day when every district would have a cold storage facility to preserve perishable commodities is also not far off," said K.Ramasamy, Vice Chancellor of TNAU

Steps are afoot to get insurance coverage for all the crops within the next five years, K.Ramasamy, Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, said here on Tuesday.

At a workshop on “attracting and retaining youth in agriculture”, organised by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in commemoration of the National Youth Day at Srimad Andavan College, he advised the farming community not to expect loan waiver all the time. “Of course, the government and the banks are ready to help you . Insurance has already been extended to horticultural crops to protect farmers’ prospects in case of natural calamities.”

“The day when every district would have a cold storage facility to preserve perishable commodities is also not far off,” he added. He wondered how long the farmers would have to allow others to fix prices for the produce that they have raised. “The major problem is that you don’t have faith in yourselves.”

He was immensely happy to point out that a farmer in Theni had become a pioneer in banana industry. Similarly Oddanchattiram market and Pollachi farmers were doing very well.

Dr. Ramasamy was categorical that there was absolutely no necessity for the farming community to ape western practices. “You can easily become great entrepreneurs by adding value to your produce if you have faith in yourselves,” he asserted. He wanted them to accord earnest attention to allied agricultural activities as well.

He was unhappy with many people saying that youngsters were not taking to agriculture. “It is our bounden duty to create a conducive climate and opportunities for youngsters to opt for agriculture.” Pointing out that 58 per cent of the population in the country was below 27 years of age, he wanted the community to take advantage of this demographic dividend.

Ajay Parida, Executive Director, MSSRF, said the current focus was on how to make agriculture more attractive and rewarding to the younger generation. He admitted that agriculture continued to be a gamble even now thanks to the climatic conditions and monsoon failure. It was imperative for the nation to produce food not only for more than one billion population but also for an equal number of livestock. Under the latest law on Food Security, 40 kg of food grains should be given to almost 70 per cent of the population every month. He was happy to note that technology had been doing a tremendous job in this regard and pointed out that even in backward States like Bihar and Odisha, the productivity had shot up because of the adoption of new technology.

J. Sekar, Joint Director of Agriculture, Tiruchi, lamented that the department had to surrender the funds earmarked for extending training to graduates in repair of the modern agricultural machinery because adequate number of candidates were not available.

S. Sureshkumar, Assistant General Manager, NABARD, urged the youth to go in for creating infrastructure like godown for storing the agricultural produce for which his organisation was prepared to extend a subsidy of 25 per cent. Under the Warehousing Development Regulatory Act, banks should lend for setting up godowns with a capacity of more than 1,000 metric tonnes at seven per cent interest.

J. Radhika, principal, Srimad Andavan College, welcomed the gathering, and N. Parasuraman, Principal Scientist, MSSRF, proposed the vote of thanks.