Regional Agricultural Fair for Southern Region conducted at ICAR-CIARI, Port Blair

The Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, GoI, Shri Radha Mohan Singh made a clarion call that the benefits of the scientific advancements and researches taking place in Agriculture and allied sectors should percolate down to the farmers. Traditional methods of farming should be replaced with modern methods using technology, he said, calling upon the Scientists to ensure that the outcome of the research works reaches from ‘Lab to Land’, which in turn will help in achieving the target set by the Government in doubling the farmers’ income by 2022. The Minister was addressing the gathering as the Chief Guest of the inaugural function of the three-day Regional Agricultural Fair (Southern Region) on the theme ‘Sustainable Agriculture through Integrated Farming System’, organized by ICAR-Central Island Agricultural Research Institute in association with A&N Administration at ICAR-CIARI Sports Ground on 15th Feb 2018.

   Regional Agricultural Fair for Southern Region conducted  at ICAR-CIARI, Port Blair      Regional Agricultural Fair for Southern Region conducted  at ICAR-CIARI, Port Blair

Shri Singh the Regional Agriculture Fair is being organized in various parts of the country for the benefit of the farmers in five different regions. Which will enable farmers to have access to information related to Agriculture and allied sectors besides various schemes launched by the Govt. for their upliftment. “Knowledge about correct method of farming with adequate information & subsidy can play a significant role in improving the yields of the farmers”.

   Regional Agricultural Fair for Southern Region conducted  at ICAR-CIARI, Port BlairSpeaking about the importance of soil health management, the Minister said, “We must care for ‘Mother Earth’ by taking adequate measures to ensure that sufficient nutrients are provided to her. With an aim to ensure better soil management, Soil Health Cards are being issued to farmers to gauge the health of the soil and accordingly, they can utilize the required quantity of fertilizers and other nutrients to retain the fertility of the soil”, he said. The Minister further remarked that Soil Health Laboratory has been established in the Islands to enable farmers to have their soil tested for 12 vital nutrients. He also stated that the information on the Soil Health Card should be made available in local/regional languages, so as to enable farmers to have better understanding of the status of their soil. The Minister also informed that apart from reviving the existing Soil Health Laboratory in the Islands, another Soil Health Laboratory will be constructed at Goal Ghar where the farmers can get their soil tested for better yield. He called upon the Officers of Agriculture Department to speed up the process of Soil Health Card distribution to farmers in the Islands. For the benefit of the farmers, one mobile lab is also functioning in the Islands, he added.

The Minister urged farmers to adopt organic farming using scientific method. He remarked that organic farming can be done by using new technologies to get better yield adding that though the yield during the first year of cultivation tends to be low, but in subsequent years it will increase.

The Prime Minister, he said, has been laying stress on organic farming and accordingly schemes were devised to help the farmers in organic cultivation. He informed that a scheme has been devised wherein Rs. 20,000/- per acre will be provided to farmers practicing organic farming. He also mentioned that the Govt. has sanctioned a fund of Rs 1 crore for converting Neil Island as Model Organic Farm and expressed hope that the Island will soon be declared as ‘Organic Island’. He also urged the Agriculture Department to organize camps in Nicobar and apprise the farmers about the schemes available for organic farming, so as to encourage them to continue the same. Mentioning that Sikkim was the first state to be declared as Organic State, the Minister said, Meghalaya is also poised to become a fully organic state and expressed hope that in the years to come, the A&N Islands should also be in a position to be declared fully organic. He also highlighted about various initiatives of the Govt. towards doubling farmers income viz. establishment of soil health labs, importance of organic farming and supply of neem coated urea, which have been given utmost priority to improve the Agricultural sector. The Minister also informed about the importance of soil irrigation and disclosed that the Govt. has set aside Rs. 40 crore for implementation of irrigation related projects. Accordingly, Rs. 1 crore has been sanctioned for drip irrigation, construction of ring well and ponds in the Nicobar region.

The Minister stressed on the need for strengthening of Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) unit at Chouldari and directed for setting up of another VCO unit at Rangat to facilitate farmers there.

Speaking about Animal Husbandry sector, the Minister said to ensure the availability of green fodder, Hydroponic cultivation should be encouraged among farmers. The Minister also mentioned about National Gokul Mission under which the National Breeding Centre have been established in two states viz. Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Besides this, 14 Gokul Grams have been established in various parts of the country.

Turning to the Fisheries Sector, the Minister said, “Our country is in second position in terms of deep sea fishing and under Blue Revolution various schemes have been launched which will enable the fisheries sector to boom. The Minister further stated that sea cage culture is being promoted by installing 100 sea cages. To facilitate traditional fishers, a new scheme has been launched by Govt. under blue revolution in which deep sea fishing vessel costing Rs. 80 lakh can be purchased by fishers by availing 50% subsidy i.e. 40 lakh will be provided by Govt, while 10 lakh will be provided by bank as loan and 30 % has to be borne by individual or groups.

The Minister also released two publications brought out by CIARI and also gave away GPS, Fish Finder Equipment and Distress Alert Transmitter to three fishermen. The Minister also handed over the legal ownership certificate to the Karen Community for the preservation of indigenous rice variety which was facilitated by the team of scientist from CIARI.

Later, the Minister also inaugurated the flower & innovative farmer’s show, Livestock show, IFS models and went around the stalls and interacted with the participants.

Earlier, the Union Minister along with the Lt. Governor, A&N Islands, Admiral D. K. Joshi planted saplings in the premises of CIARI.

Speaking on the occasion, the Member of Parliament, Shri Bishnu Pada Ray said the Govt. is leaving no stone unturned for the welfare of the people. He urged for establishment of cold storage facility in Diglipur to facilities farmers and encouraged to cultivate tropical fruits available in Isles which are in great demand. He also urged for certification of organic tender coconut water and highlighted about pest attack on coconut palm tree and other seasonal fruit bearing plants caused by a certain species which needs to be looked into.

Earlier, Dr. A. Kundu, Director, ICAR-CIARI said briefed about the various programmes implemented by CIARI for extending support towards the farmers of these Islands.

Chief Secretary, A&N Administration, Shri Anindo Majumdar, Additional Commissioner (Extension), DAC & FW, GoI, Shri Y. R. Meena, BJP State President, Shri Vishal Jolly, Adhyaksha, ZPSA, Smti Baby Fareeda, Smti Rupa Ray, , Secretary (Agri./AH&VS, Fisheries), Shri Ramesh Verma, representatives from various Departments, NABARD, Researchers, farmers and others stakeholders representing from Telengana, UT of Lakshadweep as well as Andaman & Nicobar Islands, attended the programme.

More than 4535 farmers inclusive of other stake holders participated in the programme. The mela had  stalls representing the states and UT of Southern Region, Self Help Group, Bankers, NGOs, Input suppliers, ICAR-CIARI and KVKs, Nicobari , Karen community,  showcasing their activities for the benefit of the stakeholders.

The valedictory function was held on 17th Feb. 2018,where in  Shri Ramesh Verma IAS Secretary (Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Fisheries ), A & N Administration was the Chief guest , Shri. G.V.S Prasad GM NABARD was the guest of honour and Dr. A kundu Director CIARI presided over.  The awards for Best Stalls, farmers, innovative products and participation certificate were given to the farmers and other stakeholders.

(Source: ICAR-Central Island Agricultural Research Institute)