While seeking allocation of sufficient funds to erect electric fences to check raiding of crops by wild animals, farmers have called for due measures in the ensuing agriculture budget for boosting millet production.
These suggestions were made when Agriculture Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam met farmers from five southern districts on Tuesday. The farmers’ opinions were elicited so that they could be incorporated in the agriculture budget to be tabled in the Assembly in March. Agriculture Secretary C. Samayamoorthy was present. Farmers from Tirunelveli, Tenkasi, Kanniyakumari, Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts took part in the meeting.
Zakhir Hussein of Vadakarai said the crop loss was huge due to invasion of elephants, Indian gaurs, deer and wild boars. “Since Kerala and Andhra Pradesh governments had successfully approached the Centre for removing wild boar from the list of Scheduled Animals of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, they can be hunted down by forest personnel. But the Tamil Nadu government is yet to send such a proposal. Electric fence should be erected along the Western Ghats and the boundaries of reserve forests to check wild animal invasion,” he said.
Abraham of Tamil Nadu Vivasaayigal Sangam said small farm implements with 1.50 to 5 HP should be given to farmers with 50% subsidy as they faced acute shortage of farmhands.
When the farmers complained about trivial compensation given for destruction of banana by gale or flood and wanted subsidy for giving wooden pole support to the crop, Mr. Panneerselvam said eucalyptus or casuarina poles could be used only for a couple of years, hard plastic poles could be tried. Mr. Samayamoorthy said researches were under way to introduce banana varieties with shorter stems to withstand gale.
Shanmugam Mallusamy from Vilaathikulam called for a comprehensive plan to boost millet cultivation. A farmer from Udangudi said efforts must be taken to preserve traditional jaggery production. “Palm jaggery has up to 85% sucrose but Food Safety officials say it should have 95% sucrose which is impossible. Hence, this unrealistic norm should be deleted,” he said.
Many farmers appealed to the Minister to give native cows free or with subsidy to promote organic farming as they could use its dung and urine for agricultural operations.
Selvasekar from Kanniyakumari said native rice varieties must be promoted. Farmers from Virudhunagar district wanted good storage points with tarpaulins in direct procurement centres for paddy, and high-yielding cotton seeds. They also sought release of sugarcane procurement arrears of ₹25 crore by a sugar mill.
Speaker M. Appavu said an agricultural research station would come up on 50 acres near Panagudi and amla (gooseberry) research institute would be created on an adjacent 25 acres.