Ahead of Budget, Agriculture Minister begins consultations with farmers

Suggestions will be compiled and presented to the Chief Minister, he says

With the State government deciding to present a separate Budget for agriculture, Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, M.R.K. Panneerselvam has embarked on a State-wide consultative exercise with farmers representatives to elicit their suggestions.

Mr. Paneerselvam, who held a consultative meeting with farmers representatives of the Cauvery delta districts here on Wednesday, said the State’s decision to present a separate Budget for farmers had kindled lot of interest and the Budget would “meet the expectations of the farmers.”

Briefing reporters after a marathon meeting lasting over five hours, Mr. Paneerselvam said he would hold similar meetings in other regions covering all districts across the State to elicit the suggestions of the farming community.

Mr. Paneerselvam disclosed that farmers at the meet expressed their views on various issues including ensuring remunerative prices for farm produce, increasing productivity and use of technology.

“The suggestions from farmers will be compiled and presented to the Chief Minister,” he said.

To a query, he said steps had been taken to move paddy procured through Direct Purchase Centres to storage godowns swiftly to prevent the grains from being drenched in the “unseasonal rain.”

Based on instructions from the Chief Minister, he and the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies held a meeting with Collectors of about 20 districts to discuss the issue. Till Tuesday, about 70,000 tonnes of the 1.57 lakh tonnes of paddy procured by TNCSC were moved to safe locations. The rest of the stock would also be moved within a few days.

In an attempt to find a permanent solution to the problem, mobile paddy dryers were being procured by the Agriculture Department for use by farmers. Tarpaulins would also be supplied.

Senior farmers leader and general secretary of Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association Mannargudi S.Ranganathan, who participated in the meeting, said he had suggested strengthening of the Agriculture Engineering Department to improve farm mechanisation by making available farm machinery at the firka level.

P.R. Pandian, president, Coordination Committee of All Farmers Associations of Tamil Nadu, urged the government to constitute State, district and union level committees comprising farmers to advise the government on implementation of agriculture-related schemes.

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