COIMBATORE: Agriculture scientists, extension workers, and farmers have faced the vagaries of weather and come out well in terms of agriculture production. The rice production for this year has already exceeded 70 lakh tonnes as against the annual 50 lakh tonnes which was prevalent around 2005. Nevertheless, the existing gaps have to be reduced to further boost agriculture growth in the State, K. Nanda Kishore, Agricultural Production Commissioner and Secretary to Government, Agriculture Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, said here on Tuesday.
Inaugurating the two-day 76th Scientific Workers' Conference at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), he called for renewed focus on increased production, productivity, income of farmers, and reduced input costs.
“Horticulture is doing well in the State. Also, technologies like System of Rice Intensification (SRI), high density farming, etc., are helping farmers reap benefits. Certain important facilities should be transformed into user friendly inputs for use by farmers. They should be made to realise the significance of wastage of agricultural produce, water wastage, water saving techniques and drip irrigation methodologies,” the Commissioner said.
He called for modification or invention of machinery and equipment to augment agriculture. Need-based short-term research was called for vis-à-vis long-term and on-going research. P. Murugesa Boopathi, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said the National Food Security Mission had already made an impact on the output of rice and wheat, but the production of pulses continued to fluctuate.
Among the many threats to food security, climate change and global warming become magnified. “Tamil Nadu has six per cent of India's population, is endowed with three per cent of cultivable land, and 3 per cent of water resources. Considering these statistics, the State still holds record status for productivity in sugarcane, sun flower, cotton, and certain other horticultural crops.”
He stressed the need for timely transfer of technologies for increased agricultural production in the State.
S. Kosalaraman, Commissioner of Agriculture, said the challenge was meeting the requirements of the increasing population. “Producing more food in the face of reduced space and water is becoming more and more difficult. New varieties of crops that have been developed in rice and urad dal have great potential. The Agriculture Minister has announced that 112 lakh tonne food grain production has been set as target for the State in 2010. National Food Security Mission will be extended to more districts from the present 12,” he said.
B. Chandra Mohan, Director of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, Chennai, said at present 13 lakh hectares in the State was under horticulture. “We are looking at the university in providing quality seeds. Banana and tomato productivity has been very good. Chillies, tomatoes, brinjals, greens, and onions are the most consumed vegetables. These need to be focussed on for procurement of quality seeds.”
He called for fine-tuning and standardisation in the implementation of technologies like precision farming, micro-irrigation, and fertigation in horticulture. He asked the Government to rejuvenate old mango and cashew orchards to increase productivity.
B. Sathiyamoorthy, Assistant Director, Sericulture, Coimbatore, R. Subramanian, Chief Engineer, Agricultural Engineering, Chennai, and V. Kandasamy, Director of Seed Certification (in-charge), Coimbatore, were among those who spoke.
Books authored by the faculty and scientists of TNAU were released by Mr. Nanda Kishore.