Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam has urged the Government to appoint a committee of experts to study the functioning of the Department of Agriculture before restructuring it.

Talking to reporters here on Friday, association’s general secretary K. Balakrishnan said the proposal to do away with the taluk-level officials (Deputy Directors) in the three-tier system would complicate the functioning of the department. “Farmers will have to travel longer distance to meet the Joint Director of Agriculture for all their needs—for subsidy and other concessions.”

Agriculture was suffering even in the present set-up what with a huge number of vacancies for important posts. The Government had failed to introduce new varieties of seeds and new technologies. The extent of land under cultivation, and productivity, had come down drastically in recent years, he said.

Agricultural hands had lost their jobs and were migrating to urban areas. The amount of subsidy had gone down, even as the input cost was soaring. “It seems the Government has lost its role in the sector,” he said. “Restructuring attempts are being made clandestinely without any discussions with farmers and agriculture experts. This will not help in increasing productivity, but will result in further deterioration of the poor infrastructure.”

Mr. Balakrishnan accused the Union Government of “protecting the interests of sugar mills owners” by not raising the procurement price of cane to Rs. 1,500 a tonne. He refused to buy the Government’s contention (for not increasing the price) that the price of sugar in the international market had not gone up. “The Government is not willing to take into consideration the money fetched by other by-products of cane—molasses and ethanol. Besides, cane waste is used in thermal power plants, and as fertilizer,” he said.

The association will observe a ‘demand week,’ from December 18 to 24, to highlight the demands of farmers.