STATES PERFORMING well in the field of agriculture will be awarded a consolation prize of Rs 3 crore, announced Union Minister of State for Agriculture Kantilal Bhuria.
He was speaking as the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the three-day Western Region Agriculture Fair and Exhibition-07 held at National Research Centre for Soybean (NRCS) grounds on Saturday. Prathishtha Industries was given the best stall award.
Bhuria said the country has been divided into four zones in which the states will have to compete to win the prize. In order to provide easy agricultural loans the loan amount has been increased from Rs 80,000 crore to Rs 1.5 lakh crore in the 10th Five-Yearly plan and the same will be increased to Rs 1.75 lakh crore in the 11th Five-Yearly plan.
The interest rate on agricultural loans has been reduced to seven per cent and efforts are being made to bring it down to five per cent.
Respective state governments have been asked to release Kisan credit cards at war footing. Expressing concern over problems faced by farmers in not getting good returns in the Mandis, he said Union government has announced the minimum support price even before wheat has started arriving for sale. State governments have been asked to open purchase centres at support price and ensure that farmers get basic returns.
He said the Union Ministry is sincerely mulling over ways in which to integrate primary sector enterprise to the best possible use, fetching good return to the farmers, hitherto, practicing only one or two varieties instead of working on a combined approach.
The Union government has released Rs 60 crore for Madhya Pradesh alone under the National Horticulture Mission. He stressed on the need to generate integrated employment through dairy, animal husbandry, fisheries, poultry, sericulture and the likes and assured that special efforts are being made in this direction.
The first person from the State to become deputy director of Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) and former director of NRCH, Dr Satyaprakash, who hails from Indore, in his presidential address said that globalisation has created challenges for farmers. The cultivators will have to innovate and adopt in order to survive.
The best method for this is by joining the bandwagon of change and utilize modern machinery and technology to the best advantage. Scientists need to move out from their labs and find out problems faced by the farmers in the field to make best-suited implements and other things of use.
Later speaking to media persons he said one should not loose heart on seeing agriculture loose out in productivity on the national index from other sectors for it is agriculture that is fuelling growth in them.
The primary sector will continue to remain a major contributor to the economy. He stressed on experiential learning based on skill and attitude over and above the regular knowledge imparted. ICAR has released Rs 50 crore grant for starting experiential learning based courses in agriculture universities.
ICAR has similarly released amounts for refurbishing and renovation and purchase of material and equipments by the universities, thereby, making the budget touch Rs 400 crore for the first time under these heads.
Students will have to be attracted to agriculture and related courses by projecting the hitherto ignored sides which might turn lucrative for the youth. Marketing of implements and seeds, providing consultancy and like areas can emerge as major attractions.
The youth of today not wishing to dirty their hands on the fields can do jobs as labour intensive work will automatically decrease with the arrival of mechanization. Even small-scale farmers use mechanization in different ways like hiring tractors and threshers and this work has assumed the form of a need based cooperative.
Winners of stall, recipes/dishes, agriculture related general knowledge quiz and other competitions announced by NRCS chief scientist Dr AK Vyas were awarded at the hands of the guest. NRCS director Dr G S Chauhan delivered the welcome address. Agriculture College Dean Dr SS Tomar and other officials from department concerned of the primary sector were present on the occasion.