Agriculture tech exposure tours on the anvil for Kerala farmers

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The Agriculture department is set to organise ‘exposure tours’ within the country and abroad for farmers in Kerala to acquaint them with the latest trends and best practices in the sector.

The State government has cleared a department proposal for organising ‘National and international agricultural technology exposure tours’ for farmer groups. Exposing farmers to successful models elsewhere will help Kerala to ramp up crop yield and farmer income, the government feels.

‘‘Such farm visits will allow our farmers study profitable models first hand and see if they can be replicated at home. These tours will also allow them to interact with their counterparts in other parts of the world,’‘ Minister for Agriculture P. Prasad says.

Such interactions, according to the department, are also important in terms of food security, climate-resilient agriculture and technology innovation against the backdrop of climate change.

The department is yet to finalise the destinations, he said.

Rs. 2 cr. earmarked

The 2022-23 State Budget presented in March had earmarked Rs. 2 crore for a scheme which would enable farmers to go on farm visits within India and abroad to study the best practices. Online applications will be called for from ‘‘progressive farmers’‘ for the tour, a November 2 government order says. The international exposure tour group will include 10 farmers and an official.

So as to ensure transparency in picking the tour members, the government has ordered the formation of a selection panel headed by the Secretary, Agriculture.

Farmers willing to foot their own airfare ‘‘will be given preference to a maximum of 50% of the total participants,’‘ the order notes. Registration on the Agriculture Information Management System (AIMS) portal and possession of digital soil health cards are mandatory for the applicants.

The tours will be arranged either through the State government agency Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC) or private tour operators.

The draft approach paper to the 14th Five-Year Plan (2022-27) drawn up by the State Planning Board has noted that ‘‘enhanced productivity of crops in agriculture and intensification’‘ must become the primary instrument for reviving agricultural growth rates in Kerala. The farm sector needs to embrace new technologies and change crop management practices.

The Director, Agriculture Department, had submitted a project proposal on exposure tours in September. A departmental working group had cleared it in October.

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