November 11, 2016
Claiming that it was only for sentimental reasons and a risk-taking capability that some farmers were still cultivating in their lands, Puducherry Agriculture Minister, R Kamalakannan said that the lack of sufficient water was the single most important factor leading to decline in agriculture activity.
Addressing the meeting of 25th Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) regional committee at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) here today, Kamalakannan said that over a period of time, surface water irrigation has been replaced by ground water irrigation.
Due to the adverse impact of flood irrigation, the water table has gone down so drastically and ICAR has to concentrate on research on agriculture under saline conditions, he said.
Given the reduced availability of water, and increased soil salinity, there was a scope for crop diversification and Puducherry may be suitable for finger millets as well as minor millets, he said, adding that farmers need to be told about new and innovative agronomic practices for increasing the yield as well as income.
Stating that agriculture in Puducherry today was dismal, he said that the area under cultivation has come down to 15,850 hectares from 26,436 hectares in 2000-01.
Considering the huge risks in agriculture, a price cum weather insurance programme should be introduced in place of the current insurance scheme, covering all crops grown by farmers, in which initially a subsidy on premium can be paid by the concerned state governments and the remaining premium will be paid by the individual farmers, he said.
Committee chairman and ICAR Director General Dr T Mohapatra urged farmers to move from the traditional methods of farming and to embrace technology and go for value addition, in view of the water limitations.
Though bodies like ICAR wanted to solve the problems in agriculture faced by states, the officials participating in such meetings were not thorough about the status and statistics on the problems faced by the respective states, which was a matter of serious concern, he said.