A seminar on ‘Sustainable agriculture growth: road map for reforms’, organised by Kerala Agricultural University’s College of Cooperation, Banking and Management (CCBM), called for long-term goals, strategic planning and use of advanced technology for development of the agriculture sector.

Inaugurating the seminar, K. Prathapan, managing director of the State Horticulture Mission and Kerafed, stressed the need for crop-based coordination between research and development, and transfer of technology units of government organisations, commodity boards and universities.

“Effective coordination between researchers and extension experts now happens only for rubber production, processing and marketing. I cannot find any reason why it is not happening for paddy, coconut, spices or any other crop relevant for the State. It is unfortunate that we are slowly losing the grip on many traditional crops. The area under cashew cultivation in Malabar is shrinking. The famous cashew plantations are making way for rubber as it is the only crop offering sustainable income. Our cashew factories are becoming mere processing units for imported raw material,” he said.

Presiding over the function, P.K. Rajeevan, KAU Registrar, said that rescheduling the farming calendar and reframing farming operations had become imperative in the light of climate change. “These aspects should be a major research agenda. Long-term planning should replace short-term initiatives,” he added.

Delivering the keynote address, Abraham Thariyan, executive director, South Indian Bank, said that the country would not attain the envisaged benchmark in overall growth without large-scale development in the agriculture sector.

“Upward trend in consumer price index is the result of hike in the prices of food and fuel. But planners either fail or forget to address these issues,” he said.

Jiju P. Alex, member, KAU general council, pointed out the need for technologies suitable for small and marginal farmers.

“Overdependence on the cooperative sector should be avoided and alternative models of development should be evolved,” he said.

A. Sukumaran, associate dean, CCBM, and Philip Sabu, director, also spoke.

Topics discussed at the technical sessions included challenges in agricultural financing, reforms in agricultural marketing and value addition of agricultural products.

More coordination between researchers and extension experts sought.