The government will introduce a pension scheme for coconut cultivators on November 1, Minister for Agriculture Mullakkara Ratnakaran said in the Assembly on Thursday.
Replying to a debate on the demand for grants for agriculture, the Minister said farmers with holding of less than a hectare with minimum of 20 coconut trees would be eligible.
He said the government proposed to take up a number of schemes to increase paddy production and bring more areas under paddy cultivation. All paddy crops would be insured by the government and Rs.5 crore had been set apart for that.
He urged the Centre to increase procurement price of paddy from Rs.10 to Rs.15 a kg. The State was already procuring paddy at Rs.12 a kg. This would be increased.
He said the assistance being provided under group farming scheme for paddy would be increased from Rs.1,500 to Rs.6,500 a hectare. The assistance for bringing fallow land under paddy cultivation would be increased from Rs.5,000 to Rs.12,000 a hectare. Besides, farmers under the group farming scheme would be given a 50 per cent subsidy for buying cows. A project costing Rs.1 crore would be carried out for promoting paddy cultivation in the Pokkali fields. An amount of Rs.50 lakh had been earmarked for promoting aromatic varieties of paddy in Wayanad.
He said the government was targeting additional production of one lakh tonnes of vegetables this year. For this, 25 lakh seedlings would be supplied to farmers free of charge. Noting that the areca nut farmers were facing hardships, the Minister announced a Rs.10 crore package for areca nut. For the promotion of organic farming, Rs.1.5 crore would be spent in 50,000 hectares. The Idamalakudy panchayat, near Munnar, would be developed as self-sufficient village.
He also announced new courses at the Kerala Agricultural University, including a five-year Master's programme and degree courses in climate studies and solid-waste management.