Special Correspondent

2007-08 will be observed as Harithavarsham, Governor tells Assembly

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Agriculture and allied areas are to be the focus area for the Left Democratic Front Government during the coming financial year. A slew of programmes, including one to produce 15 lakh tonnes of vegetables and another to create 100 bio-villages, have been announced in the Governor's Address to the Kerala Assembly, which began its Budget session here on Friday.

Governor R. L. Bhatia told the Assembly that 2007-08 would be observed as `Harithavarsham' and that the Department of Agriculture would be re-christened Department of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare to reflect the Government's commitment to promote agriculture and welfare of farmers. Besides `Harithasree,' a vegetable cultivation programme, there would be special programmes to develop Palakkad, Wayanad and Idukki as `Vegetable Districts,' to develop 100 bio-villages with emphasis on organic farming and two schemes, `Kerasree' and `Keralasree,' to promote coconut and paddy cultivation respectively. `Kisan Sree,' a scheme to provide security to farmers, is also on the anvil.

In the sphere of industries, the Government plans to set up an Electronic Hub at Kochi and a Spices Park in Idukki. A Biotechnology Park and an Electronics Corridor would be established in Kochi and a Health and Textile Corridor in Palakkad. The Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO) would set up a Telecom City, which would create 6,000 new employment opportunities. The Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra) would set up a Knowledge Park in Kozhikode with world-class facilities.

Wayanad would be made a major centre of milk production by establishing a joint venture with NRI participation. A new scheme to create `poultry villages' would be launched to double production of egg. Interest-free loans would be given to 40,000 fisherwomen and 100 model fish markets set up at select centres.

A comprehensive insurance scheme titled `Matsya Dhenu' has been conceived for the benefit of fisher folk and their families.