Seminar on value addition in agro, agro-based industries inaugurated

The Food Security Law brought by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will benefit farmers immensely, said E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, here on Wednesday.

Inaugurating a seminar on value addition in agro and agro-based industries in Thanjavur district organised by Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Thanjavur, Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chennai, and Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT), Thanjavur, Mr. Natchiappan said an allocation of Rs.1,20,000 crore was envisaged in the Act to provide marketing, minimum support price, irrigation and other support to farmers, to help improve productivity.

The Act was “demand driven” and allocation was made depending on the requirement of farmers instead of taking a top-down approach. It aims at achieving the 2015 millennium development goal set by the U.N. in a “single stroke”, the Minister said.

A sum of Rs. 2,000 crore would be allotted for noon meal scheme to improve the health of children. The Public Distribution System (PDS) will get substantial funding.

The third and fourth schedules of the Act envisages significant improvement in irrigation facility. The Act deals with environment, health, and productivity, the Minister said.

Farmers are expected to produce 68 million tonnes of paddy for which the government will provide the minimum support price. The price will be decided by a non-governmental committee of experts. “Market is provided. Minimum Support Price is given. What else the farmers want,” he asked.

A food storage godown has been constructed in Madurai for farmers to store their produce. A similar godown can be constructed in Thanjavur if land was made available, he said stressing on the need for establishing cold storage chains.

To a question, he said that the ministry would be interested in creating a Special Agricultural Zone in Thanjavur district depending on farmers’ demand. S. Ranganathan, secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, Jawahar Vadivelu, president, Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, K.Alagusundaram, director, Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology, (IICPT), PLA.Chidambaram, chairman of the organising committee, K.Padmanabhan, president, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Thanjavur, and N.T. Balasundaram, secretary of the chamber, spoke.

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