To be implemented in Villupuram district at a cost of Rs. 15 crore

A pilot scheme to ensure a stable income for farmers in the long run is to be implemented in Villupuram district at a cost of Rs 15 crore.

Agriculture Minister S. Damodaran told the Assembly on Friday that the plan envisaged integration of schemes of various departments and financial institutions for implementation in the farms of farmers for three years to make the district a model in integrated farming scheme.

Tamil Nadu stood first in the country in food production in 2012 with a total foodgrain yield of 101.52 lakh tonnes, he said while revealing the steps taken to double the yield and triple farmers’ income. Soil maps would be prepared using Global Positioning System technology for all areas at a cost of Rs. 6 crore to prevent crop loss and soil decay. The map, the Minister was confident, would help in protecting soil wealth and minimise production cost. Another step to protect soil would be the formation of land cover using shredded cane heads in sugarcane fields. It would prevent burning of cane heads on the field and help in retention of soil moisture. A sum of Rs. 1 crore would be provided for 12,500 acres, at the rate of Rs. 800 per acre, for the purpose.

SMS and voice mail

The Department of Agriculture would soon introduce a system to advise farmers on agricultural practices for a particular season based on weather predictions, and provide marketing through short messaging service and voice mail. Machinery to refine small millets would be procured at a cost of Rs. 5.25 crore for farmers’ groups. A centre to undertake higher research in small millets would be started at a cost of Rs. 1 crore at the Government Seed Farm in Athiyendal of Thiruvannamalai district. Infrastructure in rural markets would be improved at a cost of Rs. 10.2 crore.

Food Processing Incubation Centres would come up at Srirangam and Pollachi at a cost of Rs 2.2 crore for horticultural produce. Besides providing storage facility, the centres would train farmers and entrepreneurs in food processing. In order to protect onion farmers against price fluctuation, storage centres would be opened in 12 districts. Mr. Damodaran said Rs. 15 crore would be allocated for production of quality certified seeds and saplings in horticultural farms. Do-it-yourself kits would be provided to the public in Chennai and Coimbatore to raise kitchen gardens.

Earlier, participating in the debate, DMDK member R. Santhi called for the waiver of all crop loans in view of the prevailing drought condition. The DMK member, I. Periasamy, pleaded for direct procurement of coconut to ensure fair price for farmers. While calling for the rejection of decontrol of sugar industry, the CPI (M) member, R. Ramamurthy, wanted the government to enhance the support price for sugarcane to Rs 3, 500. K. Krishnasamy of Puthiya Tamilagam appealed to the government to provide the same quantum of compensation of crop loss to farmers of southern districts as in the case of the delta region.

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