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Oct 28, 2009

Agricultural varsities must focus on tackling crop diseases


Agricultural universities should focus on tackling diseases that affect crops and thereby the farm economy also, Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said here on Tuesday.

Inaugurating the Centenary Building of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and other new buildings of agricultural institutions in various parts of the State, Mr. Stalin said that apart from developing new technologies to improve agriculture production, institutions such as the TNAU should find ways to prevent diseases in crops that hampered agricultural production.

Stressing the need to step up research to increase production and also bring more benefits to farmers, Mr. Stalin said agriculture experts were visiting Israel now to learn the advances in farm technology. “But, I am sure that there will be a time when people from Israel will visit India for this purpose,” he said.

Pointing out that the TNAU had the reputation of being a frontline agriculture university in the country, he said the institution should work to bring about a situation in which the rest of the world looked to India for expertise in increasing agricultural production.

Mr. Stalin, who unveiled commemorative plaques to inaugurate new buildings of agricultural institutions in Coimbatore, Tiruchi, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Perambalur and Virudhunagar, said the State government was committed to improving the condition of the farmers.

The Deputy Chief Minister listed the Rs.7,000-crore farm loan waiver and the reduction of interest on farm loans as some of the welfare schemes of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government.Presiding over the function, Minister for Agriculture Veerpandi S. Arumugham said the government had provided benefits to the tune of Rs.931 crore since 2007, apart from the loan waiver.

Stressing greater focus on research, he said agriculture production could increase only with the adoption of modern technology. This was the compulsion of this millennium. Shortage of labour could be tackled only through modern irrigation methods. Another area of focus should be agriculture implements. Though the TNAU and other organisations came up with new implements, the country still imported implements from Japan and Australia.Releasing new crop varieties brought out by the TNAU and launching the university’s agri portal, the Agriculture Minister said efforts must be made for total indigenous production of farm equipment.

“The reason I stress this is that though paddy production (per ha) in the State is 5,000 kg, pulses 430 kg, cotton 375 kg, sugarcane 110 tonne and groundnut 1,500 kg, this has been rendered inadequate by a population of 6.24 crore (as per the 2001 census),” he said. “So, innovation in technology and farm practices and indigenous production of implements are vital to increasing agricultural production in the State.”

Rural Industries Minister Pongalur N. Palanisamy, Principal Secretary and Agricultural Production Commissioner K. Nand Kishore and Coimbatore Collector P. Umanath were among those who spoke. TNAU Vice-Chancellor P. Murugesa Boopathy spoke on the founding and growth of the university and its contributions to the development of agriculture in the country.

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