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Doubling production and tripling farmers’ income...
TN Global Investors Meet - Curtain Raisers

WITH THE highest rate of urbanisation, there has been a continuous and sizable shift from the primary sector to the industrial and services sectors. As a result, the share of agriculture sector to the state’s GDP has been falling. It is presently around 8 per cent.

The state has also not been endowed with perennial rivers. Among the first to achieve 100 per cent electrification, Tamil Nadu has been using a fourth of power consumed for agriculture. There is a welcome focus on efficient water use, productivity improvement and on high value horticulture.

Rajesh Lakhoni, Principal Secretary Agriculture (he also holds additional charge of energy) described several policy interventions: “Tamil Nadu’s strength lies in its high productivity of several crops and in its efficiency in water usage. The state accounts for around 6 per cent of the national population, but only 3 per cent of its water resources. Hence we emphasise on using less water for agriculture and increase productivity.

In this context, the state is almost on par with Israel in water management.


100 per cent subsidy for micro irrigation

The state provides 100 per cent subsidy for micro irrigation. An Israeli company, Netafim, has put up a plant for the manufacture of micro irrigation equipment in Tamil Nadu. Lakhoni pointed to a huge potential for setting up greenhouses, shade net houses… that would help conserve water and that helped in year-round production of agriculture crops.

“Tamil Nadu is among the top five states in productivity. Our chief minister’s mantra is to double total production and triple farmer incomes. We are already reaching the high productivity level of states like Haryana and Punjab which are totally irrigated,” said Lakhoni.


TN farmers highly adaptable

The Agriculture Secretary pointed to the massive focus on horticulture and to processing the produce to get high value. He referred to the rapid strides made in the production of bananas and mango: “mango produced in Krishnagiri has been supplied to producers of leading brands like Maaza and Slice. In banana the state has emerged the leading producer and exporter,” he said.

Lakhoni pointed to the huge scope for exports and plans to construct cold chambers for preserving and processing.


Horticulture production surges...

Mango exports are dominated by growers in Maharashtra; the reason is the insistence of importers in the USA and else where, on irradiating the products. Such a facility has been set up by Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT) of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) plant in Navi Mumbai.

Lakhoni pointed to such an irradiation plant being set up at Hosur.

The Agriculture Secretary cited instance of large companies like Cadburys entering into agreements with farmers to buy the produce in specified volumes and rates. There is thus enormous scope for contract farming that will bring along conformity to quality standards, specifications and standardisation.

Tamil Nadu is surplus in the production of horticulture products. The state has been focusing on setting up horticulture producer companies to apply science, technology and management. This has already helped improve quality and productivity.


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