Agricultural production in Tamil Nadu has gone up by nearly 50 per cent to 127 lakh tonnes in the last 15 years despite decline in crop area, rainfall and average land holding.
The agriculture production, which was 86 lakh tonnes in 2000, had increased to 127 lakh tonnes, state Agriculture Director Dr M Rajendran said. This was despite the crop area, which was 66 lakh hectare in 1990, shrinking to 42 lakh hectare now, Rajendran told the 81st Scientific Workers Conference at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore. Similarly, annual rainfall, which was 1,200 mm in 90s, had declined to 900 mm at present, he said.
He cautioned that in future, water and energy are going to be limiting factors and productivity of crops like sugarcane, which was constant for the last 40 years. State Agriculture Production Commissioner and Secretary Rajesh Lakhoni said that in five years, rice and pulses production should be doubled and millet productivity tripled, as targeted by the government.
Maximum expenditure in fertilizers and pesticides incurred by farmers should be reduced, he told the scientists. Sitherasenan, Commissioner of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, Tamil Nadu requested the University to evolve high yielding varieties and hybrids.
In other news, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University said that there is no toxic content in vegetables produced in the state. The university sought to allay fears on the reported toxic contents in the vegetables grown and send to neighbouring Kerala from Tamil Nadu.
Rejecting the reports categorically, university Vice-Chancellor Dr K Ramasamy told reporters that the institution was monitoring samples of vegetables on weekly basis in its laboratory, accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories for pesticide residues.
Moreover, the farmers were harvesting their produce only after 10 days if pesticides were sprayed, which again assured that there were no residues present in the vegetables, he said.
Kerala government had raised concerns about excessive use of pesticides on vegetable farms in Tamil Nadu. Kerala Health Minister V Sivakumar had stated that as part the government’s drive against sale of vegetables with high pesticides residue content, coming from neighbouring states, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy would write to his counterparts seeking steps to prevent supply of such vegetables. The government had also decided to convene an inter-state secretary level meeting next month to discuss the matter.
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