Agriculture Industry to Enforce Union Budget Proposals

The state agriculture department is gearing up to take the Union Budget proposals 'in the right perspective and dovetail the schemes to give maximum benefits to farmers’. The principal secretary and agriculture production commissioner Raju Narayana Swamy said that among the ambitious schemes which can be implemented with the central aid includes setting up of special agriculture zones to be linked with the agro-parks, establishment of a cold storage chain and securing GIs (geographical indication) for traditional varieties.

He said the state could make the best use of huge outlay proposed for various schemes in the sector, if the state was represented at the highest possible levels at centre-state coordination meetings and if there's proper integration of agriculture, irrigation and LSG institutions here for implementation. The biggest challenge before the agriculture department is to build flexibility into the clauses and conditions for maximum utilization of the allocations under central sector schemes, which can realize many state projects in the pipeline.

Soon after the Union Budget, agriculture minister V S Sunilkumar had said that the state would form a special cell, which would examine the central schemes and budget proposals and work closely with the Centre. Apart from establishing special agricultural zones or hotspots across the state, like the one in Vattavada-Kanthalloor in Idukki , the state has also envisaged setting up agro-parks (one each in in all 14 districts and the 15th park at Muthalamada in Palakkad, dedicated to mango). With the aid of the Dutch government, besides the Centre-state contributions, there's also a plan to set up a 'Centre of Excellence for Vegetables and Flowers' in the state capital, modelled after the one at Baramati near Pune.

The budget target of agricultural credit at Rs 10 lakh crore and the move to integrate Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) with district cooperative banks for smooth credit flow, will help the state to realize its plan to provide revolving funds (operated through farmers collectives) to farmers, thus saving them from the clutches of moneylenders. "We have already launched the initiative at Vattavada-Kanthalloor, where the farmers were availing loans from big sharks in Tamil Naduand pledging their crop to those moneylenders," the agriculture secretary said.

By BOA Bureau