Says educated youth can be attracted to create skilled jobs

Introducing modern technology and bringing in educated youth in the primary agriculture sector will help Kerala produce its annual requirement of four million tonnes of rice from the one million hectares of land under paddy in the State, M.S. Swaminathan, visionary agriculture scientist, said here on Sunday.

Inaugurating the Perumatty Agro Service Centre in Chittur, near here, Dr. Swaminathan said modern agriculture practices, such as precision farming, would help convert his concept of “evergreen agriculture revolution” into a reality.

He said such high-tech agriculture technology could attract the educated youth to agriculture, helping create skilled jobs in rural areas. Farming should be made profitable for farmers with remunerative prices for their produce.

He said the Union government, after a study on the crisis in the agriculture sector, had included Palakkad, Wayanad and Kasaragod among the 35 districts selected for a special agriculture package. Later, Alappuzha and Idukki were included. This should help Palakkad and Kuttanad regain their glory as the “rice bowls” of Kerala.

Dr. Swaminathan said that developing the primary sector by bringing in new technology and skilled labour were of paramount importance to the country as the revolutionary Food Security Bill would soon be passed in Parliament. The provisions in the Bill, which would match the Right to Information Act in its impact, would be of great help to end hunger and poverty.

He said the agro service centre started by the Perumatty grama panchayat would address three major challenges affecting agriculture in the State — two of those were related to ecology and economy and the other was attracting educated youth to agriculture.

He said the centre would provide modern agriculture implements at reasonable costs, high-tech agriculture knowledge, agronomic support and agriculture extension services and help with farm planning and crop management, allowing farmers to increase their net income.

Dr. Swaminathan offered financial assistance from his MP's Local Area Development Fund to set up a farm school in Chittur.

Presiding over the function, Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan said that though the government provided many benefits to farmers, these were not reaching them because of the attitude of some officials. Officials who did not take an interest in implementing projects to help farmers would face stern action.

He said that whenever farmers came with innovative schemes and ideas, the Agriculture Department was ready to adopt and develop them for the benefit of the State.

He said the government had sanctioned a Rs.153-crore vegetable cultivation project for Attappady. Another such scheme was being implemented in Idukki for making Kerala self-sufficient in vegetables.

P.K. Biju, MP, inaugurated the second phase of precision farming taken up in a big way in Chittur.

K. Krishnankutty, former MLA, presented the idea behind the agro service centre.