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U.S. financial crisis affecting State’s farmers: Minister

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FARMERS UNITE: Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran leads a procession in Thrissur on Monday as part of the valedictory function of ‘Karshikotsavam’, an agricultural fair.
FARMERS UNITE: Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran leads a procession in Thrissur on Monday as part of the valedictory function of ‘Karshikotsavam’, an agricultural fair.

Staff Reporter

Agriculture Minister was addressing valedictory of farm fair

Thrissur: Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has said that the effects of the financial crisis in the U.S. are being felt in Kerala’s agricultural sector.

He was addressing the valedictory function of an agricultural fair (‘Karshikotsavam’) here on Monday.

“The bulk of Kerala’s agricultural exports were to the U.S. The Centre should help find new international markets for Kerala’s agricultural produce. The Union Government should protect the interests of States when it forges global agreements related to agriculture. The Centre should hold wide-ranging discussions with farmers and States before it signs any global agriculture agreement,” he said.

He announced that distribution of ‘green cards’ to farmers would be launched at Palakkad on November 1.

“The ‘green cards’ will ensure that the farmers get benefits they are eligible for. The Kerala Agricultural University and other research agencies should not be mere centres of academic programmes. Unless the findings of research programmes reach the farmer, they are meaningless. The Government plans to introduce social auditing to ensure that agricultural scientists and researchers effectively intervene in practical aspects of farming. The agriculture sector will

progress only if it combines the traditional wisdom of farmers, scientific programmes of KAU, and the administrative system of the Agriculture Department. All agencies in this sector should work in tandem,” he said.

The Agriculture Department will introduce a systematic plan to boost agricultural production from November.

“By the end of the current financial year, the Department will create 100 ‘organic villages’. Comprehensive agricultural surveys are being conducted. A survey to assess paddy cultivation in Alappuzha, Thrissur and Palakkad is under way,” he said.

Therambil Ramakrishnan, MLA, presided. District Panchayat president Ambadi Venu presented prizes to winners of various competitions held as part of the fair. KAU Vice-Chancellor K. R. Viswambharan and K. V. Abdul Khader, MLA, also spoke.

A procession that showcased the State’s agrarian culture preceded the meeting.

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