TN Agriculture Budget: Minister announces flagship scheme to preserve soil fertility of cultivation lands at Rs 206 crore cost

Scheme devised recognising the need to shift towards chemical-free agricultural practices for well-being of society, MRK Panneerselvam said.
Tamil Nadu Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, MRK Panneerselvam presented the agriculture budget for 2024-25 in the Assembly.
Tamil Nadu Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, MRK Panneerselvam presented the agriculture budget for 2024-25 in the Assembly.Photo | DIPR Photos

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister MRK Panneerselvam on Tuesday announced a flagship programme - Chief Minister's Mannuyir Kaathu Mannuyir Kappom Scheme, aimed at preserving the soil fertility of cultivation lands in a comprehensive manner. This programme will be implemented at a cost of Rs. 206 crore.

Panneerselvam announced this while presenting the exclusive budget for agriculture for the fourth consecutive year.

The minister said this scheme has been devised recognising the imperative to shift towards sustainable and chemical-free agricultural practices for the well-being of the society. The scheme has 22 components.

“This scheme aims to preserve soil fertility through the promotion of Green Manure usage among farmers. In the initial phase, slated for the year 2024-2025, an allocation of Rs. 20 crore has been earmarked for the distribution of Green Manure Seeds to cover 2 lakh acres benefitting 2 lakh farmers” the Minister said.

The minister explained that as the livestock population is declining, vermicompost, which is obtained by composting cow dung and farm waste, is gaining importance. To produce vermicompost and to improve soil fertility, 10,000 farmers will be provided two vermicompost beds each for a total outlay of Rs.6 crore.

Additionally, a sum of Rs.5 crore will be allocated for setting up of permanent vermicompost pits.

"It is essential for every farmer to understand soil fertility and apply fertilizers judiciously. For this purpose, Tamil Mannvalam portal has been created to facilitate farmers' access to crucial information and enable them to download the Soil Health Card. This provides tailored, crop-specific fertilizer recommendations to the farmers," Panneerselvam added.

Comprehensive Soil Health campaigns are slated to be organized across all villages in Tamil Nadu, fostering awareness on the importance of balanced fertilizer application and Integrated Nutrient Management.

During 2024-2025, an extensive soil testing initiative is set to be taken up in farmers’ fields in the 2,482 village panchayats selected under “Kalaignarin All Village Integrated Agriculture Development Programme”.

As part of this initiative, 2 lakh Soil Health Cards will be distributed and farmers will be advised on ways to improve the soil health. Thus, to reduce the chemical “fertilizers usage and to maintain soil fertility an allocation of Rs. 6.27 crore will be made from both State and Union Government funds.

Tamil Nadu Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, MRK Panneerselvam presented the agriculture budget for 2024-25 in the Assembly.
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“The alkaline soil lacks aeration due to its compactness, while in acidic soil, the microbial activities are low resulting in reduced crop growth and yield,” the Minister said, adding that a sum of Rs.7.50 crore for the reclamation of 37,500 acres of alkaline soils and a sum of Rs.15 crore for the reclamation of 7,500 acres of acidic soils will be allocated.

The minister said liquid bio-fertilisers have the ability to make available important nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium and Zinc to crops and increase the crop productivity by 10-20%, thereby cutting down the expenditure on chemical fertilizers.

Rs.7.50 crore will be allocated for the distribution of 5 lakh litres of liquid biofertilizers to cover an area of 10 lakh, benefitting two lakh farmers.

Considering the nutritional and health benefits of millets, Mr. Panneerselvam said millet varieties like Thalaivirichan Cholam, Vellai Cholam, Irungu Cholam and Sencholam of Salem and Karur districts, Kakka Cholam of Thoothukudi district, Vensuruttai Kezhvaragu, Karunchuruttai Kezhvaragu, Karikattai Kezhvaragu, Poovadan Kezhvaragu, Kuruvikaran Kambu, Kattu Kambu, Thattai Varagu, Perum Samai, Sadai Samai, Sittan Samai, Karunchittan Samai, Nattu Thuvarai, Malai Thuvarai of Tirupattur, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Tiruvannamalai Districts, Nattu Ulundu and Kodi Ulundu of Trichy and Thanjavur districts will be identified, collected, produced in State Seed Farms and preserved.

“These varieties will be used in developing new varieties and improving the existing varieties," the minister added.

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To promote organic farming, the Minister said 'One model Organic Farm' will be created in every administrative block. The farmers will be encouraged, trained and guided on schemes available for organic farming, certification methodologies, organic input production and marketing of organic produce, for which Rs.38 lakh will be allocated.

To encourage farmer groups interested in production and sale of organic inputs like Panchakavya, Jeevamirtham, Vermicompost, Amirthakaraisal, Meen Amilam etc., which are necessary for organic production, 100 Organic Input Production Centres will be established at a cost of Rs. One crore.

Stating that climate change is likely to present significant challenges to biodiversity, crop yields, and food security in the next two decades, Panneerslevam said special climate-smart villages will be developed, demonstrating climate change mitigation technologies to farmers and stakeholders, besides spreading awareness. He said Rs.1.48 crore will be allocated for this initiative.

To facilitate the easy access of quality agricultural produce and value-added products, to urban consumers, 100 Uzhavar Angadis will be established along the lines of Uzhavar Sandhais at an outlay of Rs. 5 crore from the State fund.

Agricultural produce, adhering to specified quality norms, will be directly procured from farmers, graded, packed, branded and sold through Uzhavar Angadis.

Tamil Nadu Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, MRK Panneerselvam presented the agriculture budget for 2024-25 in the Assembly.
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During 2024-2025, 200 MT of traditional Paddy variety seeds will be produced in State Seed Farms for cultivation in an area of 10,000 acres during the year 2025-2026 covering farmers of all districts for which Rs.50 lakh will be allocated.

Panneerselvam announced that to showcase the life and geographical conditions of the Tamil people who inhabited the Mullai land, Mullai Park will be established at Velimalai in Kanyakumari district. The project is set to be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs. 2 crore.

Similarly, Marutham Park will be established at Thirumalai Samuthiram in Thanjavur district, with a budget allocation of Rs.2 crore. Marutham represents wetlands and adjoining fields with water resources.

A Sun Garden will be established near the seashore in Kanniyakumari at an outlay of Rs. 2 crore.

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