G. Satyamurty

Implementation of agri projects to be discussed

Around 3.5 lakh hectares to be covered under rice intensification system

State to spend Rs.1,250 crore during 2008-09 for crop husbandry

Coimbatore: Collectors of 15 districts across Tamil Nadu will meet here on Saturday to discuss implementation of agricultural projects.

It will be inaugurated by Minister for Agriculture Veerapandi S. Arumugham.

Surjit K. Choudhary, Secretary, Agriculture Department, told The Hindu here on Friday that this was the first such meet in the country aimed at involving Collectors directly in the implementation of agricultural projects. “This alone can help the transformation [of farmers] in the most sustainable manner”.

Collectors of 15 more districts would meet in Madurai on August 2. Explaining the rationale behind such a meet, he said the 11th Plan proposed “knowledge transfer” for farmers in a scientific manner. Orders had been issued for covering 3.5 lakh hectares in the State under the system of rice intensification during 2008-09.

Besides, as the pilot project of precision farming in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts had proved a success, it had been decided to cover 12,800 hectares across the State this year under this method at an outlay of Rs.64 crore.

The major focus would be on water deficient districts such as Coimbatore, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Dindigul, Ariyalur, Ramanathapuram and Villupuram. In addition, Rs.40 crore would be provided from the micro-irrigation programme.

Precision farming had improved productivity levels from five to six quintals of cotton per acre to 15 quintals per acre, 40 tonnes of sugarcane to 120 tonnes and five to 10 tonnes of vegetables to 40 tonnes. For “crop husbandry”, the State would spend Rs.1,250 crore during 2008-09 as against Rs.100 crore spent annually under the 10th Five Year Plan.

“The volume of work would go up exponentially. Hence, it would be prudent to involve the Collectors directly in agricultural activities”.

Listing the pro-active measures of the State government, he said it had opened 229 agricultural clinics, computerised the entire Agriculture Department and was in the process of setting up 229 weather stations.