Govt. to reduce State’s food dependency – The Hindu

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The State government on Thursday geared for reducing Kerala’s dependence on other regions for food by prioritising and speeding up agriculture production.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan addressed a conference via video link with District Collectors and elected members of Local Self-Government Institutions (LSGIs) to prepare 1.9 lakh hectares of fallow land for intense and precision farming in the run up to Onam.

Officials ruled out collectivising production and said local bodies would farm fallow land with the consent and participation of the title holders. The State would uphold their right to ownership.

The conference flagged the possibility that food-producing regions in the country could suspend exports to Kerala if global adversities such as the COVID-19 crisis dented their agricultural production.

Food protectionism

Kerala, as a predominantly consumer State, had to break its dependency on food imports from neighbouring States. It had to guard against possible food protectionism by large-scale producers.

However, Kerala lacked sufficient land to produce food for its population. Hence, it would harness the latest technology to maximise agricultural production in minimal space.

The State would invest ₹3,860 crores in rearing foodgrains, fruits and vegetables. Inland and marine pisciculture, dairy farming, animal husbandry and traditional fishing sectors would benefit from the stimulus.

Harvest season

Mr. Vijayan insisted that the harvest season for the first crop of vegetables and fruits should coincide with Onam when consumption peaked. Households must rear vegetable gardens and breed fish in backyard ponds.

He declared the formation of agriculture clubs to channel the resourcefulness and enterprise of youth into increasing the State’s food production and make farming an agreeable and rewarding venture.

He also promised the institutionalising of a cold chain process to store, preserve and transport vegetables, fruits, meat, milk and poultry from farm to the table. A fleet of refrigerated trucks would ferry the produce from farms to markets.

Mr Vijayan said the State could spare 1,40,000 hectares to cultivate edibles inter-cropped with cash crops.

Agriculture Minister V. S. Sunil Kumar, Industries Minister E. P. Jayarajan, Local Self-Government Minister A. C. Moideen, Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty and Chief Secretary Tom Jose attended the conference.

Source: Thanks https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/govt-to-reduce-states-food-dependency/article31528606.ece