PALAKKAD: The State Agricultural Department finds itself in a tight spot after it drew flak from agricultural scientists who blamed it for the poor agricultural scenario prevailing in the state. They also pointed out that it is because of the department’s mismanagement that the krishi farms are also in debt.
The agricultural production in the state has been declining at an alarming rate. Paddy production in 2002-03 was 6,89,000 metric tonnes. After 10 years, it fell down to 5,18,888 metric tonnes in 2012-13. The production of other items like coconut, arecanut, ginger, turmeric, cashew, tapioca, pepper etc has also decreased.The krishi farms which were formed in 1905 to boost agricultural production is draining exchequer, thanks to the apathy of officials concerned.
Data collected by ‘Express’ reveals that in last five years over Rs 60 crore went down the drain. It is the amount that went into run krishi farms. The figure may go higher if the total amount spent to run these farms is calculated right from their inception.It can be seen that the amount spent is nearly double or triple the income generated by these farms.
The main reason behind failure of krishi farms is non-utilisation of the farms for cultivation, insufficient infrastructure, lack of adequate number of employees, apathy of officials in implementing various agricultural projects effectively, pointed out the farmers.
“It is through the krishi farms that the farmers in Kerala are supposed to get the know-how of various sophisticated cultivation methods, hybrid seeds etc. But for the last couple of years, no research has been taking place in krishi farms. Also farmers aren’t being provided with hybrid seeds,” said Koya Yousuf, president of the Farmers Association.
“Agriculture Department has got reduced to being a centre that provides financial assistance, supplier of seeds and other equipments to the farmers. Effective utilisation of resources is not taking place at the department,” said Dr K Abdul Kareem, Associate Director at the Regional Agricultural Research Station.He added that earlier the officials in the department used to get opportunities to participate in various training programs but nowadays no programmes are drawn up.
“Technology transfer is not taking place here as they are least bothered about disseminating latest agricultural innovations to the farmers. The present system is not at all conducive for them to perform well,” added Dr Abdul Kareem.
Abdul Kareem suggested that the department should have two departments- an Extension Wing and Development Wing. This will help the officials perform well and automatically the agricultural sector will benefit from it.“Highly educated officials must come under Extension Wing and they must do works like providing technological support to farmers; teaching them various cultivation methods and methods for improving production and productivity etc.
“The other department must have people to do all the desk works like seed supply, conducting surveys, moving files for financial assistance, etc,” added Abdul Kareem.