The Additional Commissioner of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India, Anupam Barik, stressed on the need to bring down the per capita edible oil consumption in the country, as the present average 19 kilograms is extremely unhealthy.
Speaking at the national castor kisan mela at the ICAR-India Institute of Oilseeds Research (IIOR) here on Friday, he said the general health indicators of the people would improve to a large extent if the per capita consumption was brought down to 12 kg.
Mr. Barik assured to include castor in various schemes of the Union government to support farmers cultivating the crop.
Explaining the scenario of castor crop cultivation in the country, director of ICAR-IIOR A. Vishnuvardhan Reddy highlighted its prospects and problems. The latest technologies such as newly-developed castor hybrids (DCH-519 and DCH-177), drip irrigation, best management practices, and innovative extension activities taken up by the institute would help the farmers double their income from castor cultivation in the near future.
Stating that castor was an ideal crop for areas with low rainfall and low soil fertility, director of the National Institute of Agricultural Extension (MANAGE) V. Usha Rani urged the government to support castor farmers with incentive-oriented initiatives, which include minimum support price and subsidies for adoption of drip irrigation, among others.
Vice-Chancellor of Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University V. Praveen Rao advised castor farmers to take up agriculture in the spirit of the business and apply pesticides and fertilisers judiciously. He emphasises the need for massive soil and water testing for better results.
Mr. Rao also favoured institutional intervention in analysing the cost of cultivation of castor vis-a-vis other competing crops. The director of Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute (ATARI), Zone 5, Y.G. Prasad, and former project director at IIOR Ranga Rao spoke at the event, which was attended by about 1,000 castor farmers from across India.