Kochi: Kerala's agriculture department is launching an IT-based information system for the benefit of farmers.
Christened Kissan (Karshaka Information System and Service Networking), the system will become operational by end-July 2003. The project will be implemented jointly by the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Kerala, and the Farm Information Bureau.
The project will link the farmers with research institutions, Krishi Bhavans and distribution and marketing centres though cable TV, satellite transmission and Internet portal, says Kerala Agriculture Minister K R Gouri.
Gouri says her government had also begun steps to set up a virtual university and a herbal valley as suggested by the MS Swaminathan Commission on WTO concerns in agriculture in Kerala.
The virtual university has been mooted to provide timely information to farmers on marketing of agricultural produces and the herbal valley to take up cultivation and preservation of medicinal herbs. An empowered committee with the chief secretary as its chairman has been constituted to look after the implications of the commission's recommendations, she says.
The minister says steps are also on to operationalise the agri-export zones covering nine districts at an estimated outlay of Rs 27.44 crore. The zones have been mooted to promote export of vegetables and fruits.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the state government and APEDA for implementing the project. Separate export zones will be set up to promote export of flowers, spices and medicinal herbs, she adds. Gouri says her department is also drawing up a scheme to provide employment to 1 lakh women in the coming three years.
The vocations sought to be encouraged include cultivation of ornamental flowers, poultry and cattle rearing, bee keeping and installation of copra driers. The central government has already accepted a project relating to the Coconut Technology Mission and asked the state government to submit a revised project report.
The department has prepared soil maps of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha and Palakkad districts. The maps of the other districts will be ready in one year. The Agriculture Technology Information Centre (ATIC) will be set up under the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), she sums up.