THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: ‘’Farming should be made glamorous to persuade our educated young people to take it up,’’ said Additional Chief Secretary K Jayakumar.
He was talking on the need and significance of hi-tech agriculture, at the national workshop on ‘the potential and strategies for hi-tech agriculture’ jointly organised by the Planning Board, Agriculture Department and the Agricultural University.
“Technology adds a glamour tag to engineering which suddenly becomes fashionable for our youngsters. I think such a tag would be good for agriculture too. The availability of technology is huge, but what is missing is the connectivity between the availability and the application at the farmers level. As land becomes scarce and given our economic and natural compulsions, I think hi-tech farming is here to stay,” said Jayakumar.
Jayakumar also called for an initiative that would identify progressive farmers and handhold them instead of making them run from pillar to post.
“A hi-tech agriculture and a low-tech administration would never go together. The attitude of the officers should also undergo a sea-change,” he said.
Earlier, inaugurating the two-day workshop, Finance Minister K M Mani said that farming should be modernised and made more intensive. Pointing out that there has been only a negative growth rate in agriculture in the state for the last five years, Mani said that GM crops, precision agriculture, protected agriculture and value addition of agricultural products at source was the need of the hour.
However, Planning Board member C P John warned that conversion of all traditional farmers to hi-tech farmers may not always work.
“NRIs returning from abroad, senior citizens or retired persons who have a regular source of income can all take to hi-tech farming. But I do not think the whole system should be running after the hi-tech agriculture and be over ambitious,” he said.
In his presidential address Planning Board vice-chairman K M Chandrasekhar said that the mere 4 percent growth rate for Indian agriculture calls for changes both at the macro and micro levels. “While at the macro-level there is a need to step up production of foodgrains, at the micro-level, hi-tech agriculture becomes relevant,” he said.
Chandrasekhar also called for shortening the distribution chain between the farmer and consumer, links with agricultural research labs, improving prices at the farmer’s gate and shifting to increased production of vegetables and horticultural products in addition to food grains and modernisation of farm machinery for intensifying agriculture in the state.
Kerala Agriculture University (KAU) Vice Chancellor K R Viswambharan, KAU former Vice Chancellor K V Peter and Planning Board agriculture wing head P Rajasekharan also spoke on the occasion.