KOLLAM:The state government having set the agenda for an agrarian revival, the Agriculture Department has pitched in with the idea of a separate wing for increased mechanisation.The Kerala State Agricultural Mechanisation Mission (K-SAMM) - aimed at providing a single functional, controlling and monitoring unit to coordinate and enforce all government-level initiatives to promote agricultural mechanisation - is proposed to come up at Mannuthy in Thrissur.
With such a mission in place, officers say, the operation and functioning of Agro-Service Centres (ASC) and ‘Karshika Karma Sena’ (KKS) will become more focused.“Mechanisation of farming operations and ensuring skilled manpower for the same were two of the core areas for the government,” said an officer with the Agriculture Directorate.
“Though we have ASC and KKS working towards this, their performances were inconsistent. The same is the case with the Research Testing and Training Centre and the Regional Training Centres.”
Officers are optimistic K-SAMM will help achieve the objective of increased agricultural productivity, particularly with the government taking interest in bringing fallow land back under cultivation.
“Under the circumstances, the strengthening and effective upkeep of farm mechanisation services are the immediate requirements,” the officer said.
Officers hinted, though the government had spent crores of rupees on subsidies for mechanisation and for the purchase of machinery under various government and non-government agencies, the lack of coordination and professional management has turned out to be an impediment to achieving the desired results.
“The dark truth is that a good number of machinery under the possession of various agencies and departments remains underused. As they fail to cater to the farmers’ needs, they will have to depend upon the services of combine harvesters brought in by brokers from Tamil Nadu and other states by paying a hefty price,” said an officer.Some mediators are said to hire the department machinery at subsidised rates only to make a fortune by lending it to farmers at exorbitant rates.
“There are certain problems, which we are in the process of fixing. The establishment of K-SAMM is the first step towards it. The proposed body will help properly manage the fleet of machinery and thereby ensure timely service to farmers,” said an officer with the Agriculture Directorate. To facilitate the management of government and private-owned agricultural machinery, it has also been decided to introduce a GIS and GPS-based fleet management system. While determining the need for machinery, it will also help allot machinery according to time, geographic location and availability of machinery.
The other major decision on the department’s part is to establish nurseries that provide good quality planting materials at reasonable prices to address the issue of private parties exploiting the dearth of quality materials.