Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran has said the State will achieve self-sufficiency in milk production by next year.

Conducting the State-level launch of the Kerala State Poultry Development Corporation's (KSPDC) ‘Kepco Villages' project at Punnapra near here on Monday, Mr. Divakaran said that becoming self-sufficient in food grain production was not possible for the State given the fact that only Kuttanad and Palakkad were the paddy-production centres of the State, and that farmers of both regions were going through tough times, mostly due to the vagaries of nature.

In this context, the State is looking forward to achieving self-sufficiency in other areas. Import of milk, egg and meat products from other States will be stopped in another two or three years. By then, the State could produce enough of these to sustain its population. Already, about 50 to 70 per cent of the eggs required for the State is produced indigenously.

Kerala, a deficit State for long as far as food production is concerned, stands to gain a lot from the food security law of the Centre, though it is brought in late. The State's public distribution system is crucial, and it will survive only with special consideration from the Centre, he said.

The Kepco Villages project, the Minister said, envisages provision of a free package of four hens, 5 kg of chicken feed and medicines worth Rs.25 for 5,000 woman beneficiaries in each panchayat. A total of 20,000 hens, 25,000 kg of feed and medicines worth Rs.1.25 lakh will be given in each panchayat, with 70,000 women to gain from the project across the State. An additional production of five crore eggs a year is being targeted through the project, Mr. Divakaran added.

Coir and Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran presided. K.C. Venugopal, MP, inaugurated the distribution of chicken feed. District panchayat president Prathiba Hari launched the distribution of medicine. KSPDC chairperson Kamala Sadanandan, managing director V. Sunil Kumar and others spoke.

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