“Agricultural equipment like power weeder will help tackle labour problem”

Farmers of Vellore and Krishnagiri districts on Wednesday urged the government to provide subsidy for procuring modern agricultural machinery to tackle the problem of shortage in farm labourers.

They made this representation at a meeting convened by Agriculture Minister S. Damodaran and Agriculture Production Commissioner (APC) and Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Sandeep Saxena to review the implementation of various schemes of Agriculture Department.

K.P. Bhoopalan, a farmer of Sholinghur block said that wages for a particular type of agricultural work which was Rs. five in 1968 has gone up to Rs. 250 now. Power weeders currently supplied to farmers in Vellore district were meant for farmers having large extent of land, whereas the equipment was not useful to farmers of Vellore district who have smaller land holdings. “We want power weeders which can be operated even by old farmers. The power weeders should be given at 90 per cent subsidy,” he said.

Damodaran of Velleri village in Gudiyatham block wanted harvesting machines for Red Gram to be given to farmers. Agriculture can be improved if farmers are supplied machinery on subsidy. “We have decided to cultivate cotton utilising SRI technology (system of rice intensification) to increase yield and tackle labour problem,” he said.

Mr. Saxena said the government would arrange for making machinery available to the farmers through the Agricultural Engineering Department (AED).

P. Ganesan of Chennasamudram in Walajapet block wanted direct procurement centres (DPCs) to be set up for paddy to help farmers get a remunerative price for paddy as traders formed a syndicate to quote less price for paddy at regulated markets. The APC asked Vellore Collector P. Sankar to arrange for setting up DPCs.

Perumal, a farmer of Ussoor, wanted implements for de-husking groundnut and tree-climbing equipment to be supplied to coconut farmers.

L.C. Mani of Ranipet wanted all types of agricultural works to be brought under MGNREGS to enable farmers overcome labour problem. He wanted steps to be taken to provide salary promptly every month to horticultural workers of the State Seed Farm in Navlock who were currently being paid their accumulated weekly wages thrice a year.

Rajappa of Hosur in Krishnagiri district wanted hi-tech machines to be supplied to farmers on a subsidy. The agricultural labour shortage was acute in Hosur as most workers work for industries in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Hosur or other industries in Hosur and Bangalore.

The APC said that the Agriculture Department has formed committees to examine the machinery needs of farmers and arrange for lending equipment to them. The AED would assess machinery requirements of farmers so that committees could be formed for lending equipment. He said the government is implementing a foodgrains movement to double agricultural production by 2015-16. Though the State has sufficient foodgrains to meet the requirements of the population, steps would be taken to achieve surplus production so that sufficient buffer stocks could be maintained to manage droughts, he said.

While reviewing the implementation of schemes, he asked the agriculture officials of the two districts to gear up their activities to achieve the target for production of foodgrains, including paddy, pulses and millets by adopting innovative strategies.

J.A. Sundar, Joint Director of Agriculture, Vellore, and Radhakrishnan, Joint Director of Agriculture, Krishnagiri, participated.