Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar on Thursday rolled out his department’s plan for the coming years, which include declaring Wayanad district for traditional agriculture crop and practices, Attappady millet-growing area, and allocating more funds to bring at least 3 lakh hectares of land under cultivation to produce 10 lakh tonnes of paddy a year.
Replying to the debate on the demands for grants for his departments, including Soil Survey and Soil Conservation, in the Assembly, Mr. Sunil Kumar indicated that the Agriculture Department intended to focus on building up the success it had achieved in bringing fallow land back to cultivation. The government had doubled the allocation for this to Rs. 70 crore. The target was to bring at least 90,000 hectares more of fallow land under cultivation, he said.
As part of the policy for promoting value addition of agriculture produce, Mr. Sunil Kumar said the government proposed to set up 1,000 units that would employ at least 5,000 people.
Currently, value addition was only 4% of the total product value. The policy would focus on providing benefit to farmers in order to insulate them from price fluctuations.
Project Neera could not succeed because of various reasons. The government was now contemplating a proposal for common branding of Neera under the auspices of the Kerala State Coconut Development Corporation at a cost of Rs. 2 crore.
The proposal to declare Attappady as millet-growing area was brought up in view of the drought conditions faced by the area. The government had held talks with the Indian Institute of Millet in Bengaluru.
In Wayanad, the focus would be on promoting the traditional aromatic variety of rice that was endemic to the area and cultivation practices related to this.