Kerala Launches Mission to Double Farmer Income
The Value Added Agriculture Mission (VAAM), which aims to double the income of farmers and improve productivity in Kerala, received the Cabinet nod on Wednesday. Value addition of agricultural products was one of the focusses of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s 2022-23 Budget.
Under the mission, a marketing chain to take products to the international market will be developed, technological development utilised, areas requiring special attention identified and special working groups to address crucial issues will be formed.
The mission will focus on procurement, standardisation, quality control, branding and labelling of value added products. The Cabinet also decided to create a common knowledge platform to facilitate innovative research activities for rapid knowledge dissemination and problem-solving.
The departments of local self-governance, industries and water resources will play a crucial role in implementation of the mission. The ongoing campaign Njangalum Krishiyilekku (We, towards Agriculture) will also continue to popularise agriculture at households.
THRUST ON AGRICULTURE
The first LDF government had focussed on several sectors with special thrust on agriculture. Consequently, the performance of the agriculture sector improved in 2020-21 compared to the previous years.
As per the Economic Survey, 2021, the share of agriculture and allied sectors in total GSVA (at constant 2011-12 prices) of the state increased from 8.38% in 2019-20 to 9.44%. The contribution by the crop sector also increased from 4.32% to 4.96 % during the period.
Considering the improvement, Kerala announced VAAM in the Budget with Rs 5 crore allocated to the mission and another Rs 100 crore the formation of a marketing company similar to Cochin International Airport Limited.
‘TO UTILISE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS’
VAAM will also utilise advanced technological developments to make products and market them. “The income of farmers could be doubled if activities are carried out in the mission mode. We will try to bring an end to third parties making profits from selling value added agri products procured from the farmers,” state agriculture P Prasad told the media.
The mission’s other objectives include the provision of technology for producing value added goods based on agricultural products and financial assistance for developing marketing chains for them in the local, national and international markets.
The mission will also identify areas for special intervention, considering the existing opportunities, gaps, policy, markets and technical aspects. It plans to implement smart crop insurance using IOT and blockchain technologies to help farmers.
The common knowledge platform, with the specific aim of fuelling innovative research to ensure speedy knowledge dissemination and problem solving, gets a prime position in the mission.
WORKING GROUPS FOR INCREASED FOCUS
The mission will be led by the chief minister as the chairperson and ministers of agriculture and industries as the vice-chairpersons. The governing council includes the ministers of finance, LSG, cooperatives, water resources, animal welfare, fisheries, electricity and civil supplies.
The mission will have five special working groups formed for achieving targets. The groups will work on agroindustry, technology, knowledge collection and utilisation and marketing and finance. The principal secretary of the agriculture department will lead these committees.
Kerala plans to sell value added products in the international market with the help of the department of industries and Non-Resident Keralites Affairs. The mission has decided to brand and market Kerala’s unique foods in the Gulf and Middle East countries.
The Njangalum Krishiyilekku programme, with around 25,000 Krishi Kootams (farming collective) will also play an important role in the mission. The government has decided to involve 80% of these groups into production and the remaining 20% on value addition with priority to marketing and processing.
The LDF government has focussed on public funding on several departments, including public education and agriculture. The mission also intends to create employment and provide quality food to people inside and outside the state.
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