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As part of the Kerala government's flagship program -'Subhiksha Keralam' - to combat food scarcity in the state, the state agriculture department has started converting fallow lands into farms.
"We are targeting around 25,000 hectares of fallow land to convert to farms. It is a convergence scheme – all departments converging together. We are creating good models of integrated farming so that expenditure is reduced and income is more," says Dr Vasuki, director of the Agriculture Department and former Collector of Thiruvananthapuram told The News Minute.
In the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in April, had stressed on the need for the state to be self-sufficient with food supplies.
According to Rejatha, general manager of Horticorp (Kerala State Horticultural Products Development Corporation), of the 25,000 hectares, 5,000 would be used for paddy, 7,000 for bananas, and the rest for millets, fruits, tubers and varieties of beans.
Rejatha added that the departments of agriculture, forest and local self-governing bodies are all coming together for the project. Furthermore, despite the lockdown, one crore tree saplings have been given away and lakhs of vegetable seeds have been distributed.
"With climate change, temperatures increase and disease transmission patterns can change. The World Health Organisation has predicted this almost 10 years ago and that is what we are witnessing now. In such an unpredictable scenario, every community should be self-sufficient, otherwise, it is going to be a disaster," said Dr Vasuki.
Under the projects, employments opportunities will be created for a number of people, including farmers, youth, and groups such as Kudumbashree(a community organization of Neighborhood Groups (NHGs) of women in Kerala). Jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities will be created in all four stages of production, harvest management, value addition and market.
Those with their own farms can be a part of the project. Meanwhile, with the help of the panchayats, farmer groups or Kudumbashree units can take land on lease, Dr Vasuki said.Also Read: Now Nutrition Bar To Fight Malnutrition Among Children In Kerala
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