Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has stressed the need for the State to create a bulwark against monopoly trends in agriculture that pose a serious threat to food security.

He was delivering the inaugural address at the World Environment Day celebrations organised by the Soil Survey Organisation here on Friday. Mr. Ratnakaran accused multinational corporates of promoting ‘food terror’ through GM (Genetically Modified) crops. “Corporate agenda should not be allowed to dictate agricultural practices and dietary habits,” he said.

Mr. Ratnakaran said sustainable agriculture was a natural defence against greedy corporates. He stressed the need to promote organic farming and protect natural resources.

He said the government was planning to create a State-wide network of 100 neighbourhood groups (‘naattukoottams’) to encourage sustainable agriculture and protect trees, waterbodies and fields. The ‘nattukoottams’ would involve farmers and local people, mostly from rural areas.

“The groups will have periodic meetings to discuss means to promote agriculture. The government will enlist the services of agriculture experts to provide technical support. The groups would also have an action plan and a monitoring mechanism.”

Incentive scheme

State Planning Board vice-chairman Prabhat Patnaik said an appropriate incentive scheme for farmers was imperative if Kerala was to achieve food security. He said Kerala had to reverse the diversion of land from food crop production to cultivation of cash crops if the State was to achieve food security.