Thiruvananthapuram: As the Centre and state governments grapple with the problem of farmers’ suicides, the Kerala Biodiversity Board has mooted the idea of paying salaries to them to make agriculture a viable option.
Agriculture has to be made an attractive proposition for farmers and they should be paid a salary, Board Chairman V S Vijayan told PTI here.
This was necessary not only to ensure food security for the country, but to strengthen farming, he said.
The government should earmark a fund and farmers should be paid salaries like government employees. “It has to be introduced through local bodies,” he said.
This was one of the many suggestions in the ‘Organic Farming Policy´ prepared by the Board with a mission to gradually cultivate land the organic way. The idea was to convert at least 20 per cent of cultivable land every year to the organic method, he said.
Like many other states, Kerala too has witnessed farmers’ suicides, especially in Palakkad and Waynad districts.
Opposing the new technology of genetically modified seed cultivation, Vijayan said the centre should ban the trial run of genetically modified rice variety in India. Though Kerala was also selected for a trial run, the CPI-M run LDF government in the state has opposed it.
He said the technology was a “failure” the world over. It not only posed a health hazard, but would make farmers “slaves” of multinational seed companies, he added.
Vijayan said the policy had worked out ways to convert municipal waste into manure and bio-fertilizer by setting up bio-gas plants in residential areas.
The board plans to adopt three villages in Kerala and make them model villages of organic farming. “The project will be a success, as proven in Andhra Pradesh in nearly seven lakh acres of land”, he hoped.
Referring to the argument that retail chains of multinationals were a boon to farmers, Vijayan said it was true that farmers were now getting a fair price for their produce.
“However, after some years, the multinationals will dictate terms, surely at the cost of livelihood of small traders and farmers,” he said.
Vijayan said that another major setback for the farming community in the country was the signing of WTO agreement by India. “Most of the terms and conditions in the agreement are in favour or helpful to corporate agents”.
The Organic farming policy of the state, with the objective of providing ‘pure water, pure air, pure soil and pure food´ to all citizens, would be finalised at a meeting on May 22, to be attended by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan.