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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

TN Agriculture Budget 2021 Highlights: Separate dept for organic farming, new scheme for self-sufficiency in villages

Minister for Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare MRK Pannerselvam began the presentation by dedicating the budget to those farmers who are protesting at New Delhi against the farm laws.

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
August 14, 2021 4:56:00 pm
Tamil Nadu Minister for Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare MRK Pannerselvam with Chief Minister MK Stalin

For the first time in the history of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, an exclusive budget for agriculture was presented today by the Tamil Nadu Minister for Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare MRK Pannerselvam.

The minister began the presentation by dedicating the budget to those farmers who are protesting at New Delhi against the farm laws. He said that the DMK government will not take any dictatorial steps and hence as per the directions of the Chief Minister MK Stalin, the budget was drafted after several discussions with farmers, representatives of farmers associations of 18 districts.

The Stalin-led government in their maiden budget has allocated Rs 34,220.65 crores for Agriculture and allied sectors which include Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Revenue, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Agricultural engineering, Rural development and Panchayat Raj. In the previous budget, then ruling AIADMK government had allocated Rs 11,894.48 for these sectors.

The government is planning to implement a project called ‘Kalaignar’s Anaithu Grama Oruginaintha Velan Valarchi Thittam’ in the span of next five years to ensure all the villages of Tamil Nadu attain overall agricultural development and self-sufficiency.

According to the budget, there are 12,524 village panchayats in the state and in each year, the scheme will be implemented in one-fifth of the village panchayats. The scheme is set to be implemented in 2,500 village panchayats this year. The state government has allocated Rs 250 crore for the scheme.

The minister further said that the government will convert 11.75 lakh hectares of fallow lands into farmland in the next 10 years to increase the area of cultivation from 60 to 75 per cent.

Double-cropped area which is now lakh hectares will be increased to 20 lakh hectare in the next ten years by forming new water resources, developing micro-irrigation clusters and cultivating short duration millets, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and greens, he added.

The government has also allocated Rs 4508.23 crore to Tamil Nadu Electricity Board to provide free electricity for agriculture.

Also, Rs 573.24 crore has been allocated to Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

The government is planning to provide a kit of agricultural equipment to half lakh farmers, which includes shovels, weeders, iron pots, crowbars and sickles which are required to undertake daily farming activities. This scheme will be implemented at an outlay of Rs.15 crore.

A separate wing for organic farming will be created under the Agriculture Department. Farmers who adopt organic farming method will be encouraged with provisions of subsidy. As inputs for organic farming are essential, the government said arrangements will be made to make them available in Agricultural Extension Centres.

The minister also said that the agriculture sector will prosper at a faster pace only when youngsters become job creators rather than job seekers. For this, capacity-building training will be imparted to students during the course of their graduation with the help of agri-business firms and alumni. The scheme will be implemented at a cost of Rs 2.68 crore.

To motivate the educated youth to take up agriculture to next level in their native places, a scheme of ‘Rural Youth Agricultural Skill Development Mission’ will be rolled out. In the first phase this year, skill training will be given to 2500 youth in areas of grafting, layering, operating horticultural machineries, etc, with an estimated expense of Rs 5 crore.

To protect the existing palmyra trees and to increase their number, the government will distribute 76 lakh palmyra nut seeds and one lakh palmyra seedlings to farmers with full subsidy in 30 districts. Rs 3 crore has been allocated for this scheme.

The government said permission from the district collector will be made mandatory to cut palmyra trees under unavoidable circumstances. Also, measures will be taken to sell palm jaggery at PDS shops.

An Integrated Farming System will be implemented during this year to benefit the 13,300 farmer families in the state at an expense of Rs. 59.85 crore that will be met with central and state government funds.

Agricultural Zonal Committees will be formed to protect the farmers from natural calamities. The committee, consisting of officials from various agricultural departments and environmental experts, is expected to provide appropriate advice to protect the livelihood and welfare of farmers in their agro-climatic zones.

A separate museum for agriculture will be set up in Chennai to showcase the glory of agriculture to the younger generation.  Videos based on folk songs and agricultural songs will be played in the museum. Rs 2 crore has been set apart for this project.

Pannerselvam said that farmers who invent new local agri techniques and machinery will be rewarded with prizes. The best performing farmers who fetch maximum production by adopting traditional organic farming practices and the best performing exporters who excel in agro exports will also be rewarded with prizes.

A high level committee for agriculture will be constituted at state level under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary to review farming related schemes and to suggest solutions for the problems faced by farmers.

Rs. 2,327 crore has been allocated for the crop insurance scheme for the year 2021-2022.

Sugarcane farmers who have supplied the product to sugar mills will be paid the Transitional Production Incentive for the 2020-21 crushing season at Rs.42.50 per tonne. Rs.40 crore has been allocated for this.

Further, the government has also decided to sanction Rs.150 per tonne of sugarcane as ‘special incentive’. This will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of the farmers.

The government will also take steps to improve the area and production of horticulture crops that can be grown in all types of soil.

For promotion of fruit cultivation, Rs 29.12 crore has been allocated.

To encourage production of fresh and residue-free vegetables at households for daily needs and to enable children to learn about plants, two lakh seed kits consisting of 12 types of vegetable seeds will be distributed at subsidised rates in rural areas. One lakh terrace garden kits with 6 types of vegetable seeds will also be distributed at subsidised rate in urban areas.

Rs 95 crore has been allocated for various measures to enhance soil fertility. A new horticulture park will be set up at Vadalur at the expense of Rs 1 crore.

7,106 agricultural machinery and equipment wil be distributed at subsidised rate to assist farmers. Solar-powered pump-sets up to a capacity of 10 horse power will be installed at 70 per cent subsidy.

A facelift will be given to around 50 Uzhavar Santhais (farmer’s markets) spending Rs 12.50 crore. As many as 10 new Uzhavar Santhais will be set up in town panchayats and other urban areas of Cuddalore, Dindigul, Erode, Karur, Pudukkottai, Tirunelveli, Tiruchirappalli, Thanjavur, Vellore and Kallakurichi districts. Rs 6 crore will be spent for this.

Modern cold storages will be set up in Oddanchattiram and Panruti.

Minister also said that the sale of farm fresh vegetables and fruits through mobile shops will continue as the initiative has brought great benefits from both consumers and farmers. On a pilot basis, 30 mobile vegetable shops will be operated in five corporations, viz, Chennai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruppur. A subsidy of 40 per cent or Rs. 2 lakh, whichever is less, will be provided to rural agricultural youth to purchase vehicles for this purpose.

The government will set up an integrated rural agricultural market complex at Edapally village situated on the borders of Coonoor and Kotagiri at Rs 2 crore.

To facilitate the farmers to dry their produce to the desired moisture content and sell them at regulated markets, the government will construct 28 drying yards in Cuddalore, Villupuram, Salem, Namakkal, Krishnagiri, Erode, Trichy, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Theni, Dindigul, Tiruppur and Kanniyakumari Districts at a cost of Rs. 3.5 crore.

The government has also proposed a scheme for the establishment of an Agricultural Export Facilitation Centre for promoting export trade by farmers and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs). The infrastructure for the building is already being constructed at Guindy in Chennai at a cost of Rs 1 crore.

A ‘Modern Agricultural Marketing Centre’ will be set up at Kolathur in Chennai Corporation at a cost of Rs 1 crore to make the farm fresh vegetables available in the city.

e-Auction will be encouraged in all regulated markets. The government would be taking steps to bring all the regulated markets, mandis, FPOs under the purview of a software platform and they will be linked with traders at national level. With the creation of this platform, the farmers will be able to fetch maximum price for their produce. The marketing centres will also be linked with the e- Auctioning platform which will create a link between farmers and markets. For this purpose, Rs.10 crore will be allocated.

Paneerselvam added that the government will take steps to get GI tag for traditional unique produces such as Kolli Hills-Pepper, Panrutti-Jack and Ponni rice.

The government is also planning to set up a separate and exclusive food processing organisation. Apart from this, Food Processing Incubation Centres will be launched in five locations including Nagapattinam for fish-based products, Coimbatore for coconut, Trichy for banana, Erode for turmeric and Virudhunagar for millets to encourage entrepreneurs who come forward to start food processing business.

A new horticulture college will be set up at Jeenur near Krishnagiri district while a Turmeric Research Centre will be established at Bavanisagar near Erode.

Remote sensing technology will be used to acquire information for effective implementation of crop insurance programme. An amount of Rs.72 lakh has been allocated to implement this programme. Further, maps of 17,514 irrigation tanks will be digitized and the extent of their water spread will be monitored by using satellite data.

The minister also added that Nammazhavar Organic Farming Research Centre will be set up at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore at an expense of Rs 3 crore.

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