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Jun 5, 2009

New V.C assumes office @TNAU


Though the focus of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) will be on education, research and extension activities, impetus will be given to research that will reach the farmers through extension activities, P. Murugesa Boopathy, Vice-Chancellor of TNAU, told a press conference here on Thursday.Meeting the media after assuming office, Mr. Boopathy said there was a constant grievance that the new crop varieties, technologies and farm equipment introduced by the scientists of the university did not reach the farmers in time. To rectify this, extension activities would be strengthened and scientists would be in direct contact with the farmers to ensure that the technologies reached the farmers for maximum benefit.

“When we talk about technologies, we only talk about production and how to increase the yield. But, now, it is time to talk to them about marketing and see how farming can bring about benefit to the farmers. The Agri Business Centre at the university is working on this aspect,” the Vice-Chancellor said.Answering the query as to the reason behind the low growth of agriculture in the State in spite of many successful schemes, he said it was due to the reluctance of farmers in adopting all the technologies offered by the university. He said the reasons could be because of economic constraints or the fear of unknown. “Only if they adopted the technologies in totality can they be assured of 100 per cent productivity. This has to be impressed upon the 80 lakh farm families living in the State,” Mr. Boopathy said.

Regarding some specific technologies, he said those technologies were offered by the Government at a subsidy and hence should be used by the farmers. “The imported rice transplanter or harvestor is being offered at a subsidy of 50 per cent or Rs. 4.5 lakh. The sprinkler or drip irrigation mechanism is also being offered at 50 per cent subsidy. TNAU is implementing precision farming on 50,000 hectares in many districts. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is also promoted by the university. The Agriculture Minister has set a target of 7.4 lakh hectares to be brought under the SRI technique. So far 4.7 lakh hectares have been covered. The system ensures that five tonnes a hectare is increased to 10 or 14 tonnes a hectare,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

In addition, the Krishi Vigyan Kendras, provision of agriculture websites and e-agriculture would provide better connectivity of farmers to the scientists, he said.Stressing the importance of agriculture education, the Vice-Chancellor said he had urged the Agriculture Minister to make agriculture a subject in schools from standard VI. “Most of the children from rural background do not attend school after SSLC. Hence, if they learn the basics of agriculture along with the latest technologies in school, they would be able to make a living even if they discontinue after standard X.”

Accordingly, as a beginning, 400 schools would introduce the subject and it would be taught by agricultural graduates specifically appointed for this purpose. Gradually, more schools would be brought into the fold, he added.

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