The Tamil Nadu Agriculture University is expecting massive support for mechanisation of agriculture in the State both from the Central and the State governments, its Vice-Chancellor K. Ramasamy told The Hindu on Thursday

He was responding to a question on the acute scarcity of agricultural labour in the State, especially because of the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme that ensures 150 days of employment in Tamil Nadu at present.

He admitted that the State was facing labour shortage for farming operations and hence it was imperative to go in for substantial mechanisation. “We have adequate machinery for two major crops — paddy and sugarcane.”

In order to popularise mechanisation, the university had suggested that uneducated youth and engineers should be given loan from the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development with subsidy. Thus they would be able to purchase tractors, transplanters, weeders, and so on, and they could be permitted to get nominal hiring charges. “Even the State government might be able to help the small farmers by footing these hiring charges”.

The Vice-Chancellor said Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was keen on improving farm mechanisation. However, for mechanising farming operations, it was a must to have uniform maturity of crops. “Hence, we are developing varieties for uniform maturity and we have achieved success both with regard to black gram and green gram”.

The Vice-Chancellor was happy to point out that pulse production in the State was looking up. “As against the previous yield of 850 kg per hectare, now farmers are able to get even as much as 1,600 kg to 2,000 kg per hectare.”

Even in the rice bowl of the State, the delta region, apart from one paddy crop, farmers have chosen to go in for two crops of pulses as they can raise varieties of 65-75 days duration. As pulses and millets provide protein and nutrient, this would be one of the major activities that would require considerable attention. Another important suggestion of the university is to set up Special Purpose Vehicles which would ensure timely supply of nutrients to farmers. Last year, the agri-inputs were supplied to farmers at the “village mahotsavs.” This year, it is likely to be done in the panchayats themselves by procuring these inputs well in advance.

The university wants the government to focus on farm ponds and water saving techniques like micro irrigation and already the State Government had announced a major scheme to set up farm ponds.

The Vice-Chancellor expressed the hope that the State government would give further stimulus to micro-irrigation. He also said that the university had suggested that the government should accord better attention to supplying certified quality planting material as horticulture suffered from this flaw.

Dr. Ramasamy said there was also a suggestion to revive the village shandies so that marketing link could be provided to farmers. “We can even think of networked electronic system and marketing assistance for them”.

To a question on the recent samba crop, which faced serious trouble because of the failure of the North East Monsoon and the recalcitrance of Karnataka to release water to Mettur Dam, Dr. Ramasamy said Tamil Nadu had not totally lost the crop as alleged in some quarters. “Those who have gone in for early sowing, as advised by the university, had good yield. It is only those who have opted for late sowing who are in trouble”, he explained.

  • ‘State is farming labour shortage in the farm sector’

  • University working on uniform maturity of crops