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INTERVIEW

“Telangana has introduced Crop Booking feature which is first of its kind”
Monday, 10 January, 2022, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
The Department of Agriculture, Telangana, mainly provides agricultural extension services to farmers and transfers the latest technical knowledge to the farming community. Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, Agriculture Minister, Telangana, shares his views on agriculture, farmers, Government support, seed testing laboratories, fertilisers, and a lot more, in an email interview with Manjushree Naik. Excerpts.

How do you ensure quality and timely input supply for farmers?
Agricultural inputs can be categorised under seeds, fertiliser and pesticides. The following are the steps taken to ensure quality and timely input supply for farmers.  
  • Seed requirement of various crops is taken from the DAOs of all the districts.
  • All the districts are communicated about the crop wise variety wise seed availability with various Government and private companies.
  • It is ensured that all the seed is ensured to be placed at mandal sale points well in advance of the commencement of the season for general sales.
  • With regard to subsidy sales, Green Manure seed is positioned by TSSDC well in advance of the season and the seed distribution is implemented through OSSDS portal.
  • Before the commencement of the season, sufficient fertiliser is positioned at the dealer outlets as the requirement of the districts.  
  • Pesticides are made available in the dealer shops based on the need.
There are two Seed Testing Labs, eight of single window Seed Testing Laboratories, two Pesticide Testing Labs and two Fertiliser Testing Labs to test the seed, pesticide and fertilisers respectively besides a fertiliser coding centre and pesticide coding centre.

Tell us about soil, fertiliser, seed and pesticides testing.
Soil Testing
The objective of soil testing program is to assess the fertility status of the soil and furnishing soil test based fertiliser recommendations (Soil Health Cards), to farmers for obtaining optimum yields.

The analysis of soil samples is done on time and Soil Health Cards are distributed to farmers before ensuing of the Vanakalam (rainy) season. From 2015-16 to 2018-19, 55.54 lakh soil health cards are distributed.

There are 12 Functional Soil Testing Labs (STLs), located at Agriculture Market Committees, 9 District STLs, and 4 Mobile STLs which aid in  analyzing the soil samples and communicate the results on time.

Seed Testing
The quality of the seed is ensured by drawing of service samples from the subsidy seed as well as act samples from general sales seed of private firms and Government agencies and sent to two notified seed testing laboratories in the state and such samples will be tested for PMG analysis and Bt protein content in case of Cotton seeds.  
  1. Seed Testing Laboratory, Rajendranagar, Hyderabad:
  2. Telangana DNA FP & TCM Laboratory:  
1. Seed Testing Laboratory, Rajendranagar, Hyderabad:
It is a State Seed Testing Laboratory established in 1960 and is located in the campus of PJTSAU at Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, with a capacity of 8000 samples per annum.

Major activity is PMG analysis-Testing of seed for quality parameters like physical purity, Moisture and Germination tests (PMG) are being taken up in the laboratory and Bt. protein quantification test is also being done by this lab.

2. Telangana DNA FP & TCM Laboratory:  
Telangana DNA Finger Printing and Transgenic Crops Monitoring Laboratory is state of art Seed testing laboratory with a capacity of 6000-8000 seed samples per annum.

Activities of the DNA laboratory:
  • PMG analysis (Purity, Moisture and Germination)
  • Detection of Cry 1Ac and Cry 2Ab gene in Cotton seed Bt. protein test
  • Analysis for detection of unapproved transgenic events like herbicide tolerant traits (CP4EPSPS gene) is also being conducted by DNA Lab as per the provisions of EP ACT 1986.
Fertiliser:
There are three Fertiliser Quality Control Labs in the State of Telangana notified under clause 29 of FCO, 1985.

Testing of Fertiliser Samples:
The notified FCO labs are analysing referral analysis samples, service and private paid samples.

Coding Centre for Fertilisers:
In order to maintain the secrecy of place of analysis Fertilizer Coding Centre is was established during 2004 at Malakpet, Hyderabad. Fertiliser samples drawn by the Fertiliser Inspectors of the State are sent to Fertiliser Coding Centre.  

Plant Protection:
Pesticide Testing Laboratories:
There are two (2) Pesticide Testing Laboratories i.e., Rajendranagar & Warangal and one (1) Bio-Pesticide Testing Laboratory (BPTL) at SAMETI, Malakpet are established in the state.  

Coding Centre for Pesticides:
Pesticide Coding Centre was established during 1999 at Malakpet, Hyderabad. The main objective of the Coding Centre is to maintain the secrecy  of analysis of samples.

Agriculture department has enabled the delivery of testing, input regulation and farm mechanisation through IT. Elaborate.
The following are the activities of IT Cell of the department  
  • The department’s website is www.vyavasayam.telangana.gov.in. The site is made for public viewing.
  • Online License Management System (OLMS) for inputs
  • Kisan Call Center – 1800-180-1551 facilitates farmers for redressal of queries by calling - located at Rajendranagar, Hyderabad.
  • The call center Farm Tele Advisors (FTAs), are being regularly provided with the latest material published by the department.
  • The department of agriculture released a mobile App on package of practices of 5 major crops grown in the state of Telangana i.e. Paddy, Cotton, Groundnut, Maize and Soyabean.
  • Since formation of Telangana state, Farm mechanization Scheme is being implemented through State Agriculture Department Web Portal with the support of MeeSeva Centres (Citizen Service Centre).
What are the steps being taken to facilitate credit, crop insurance? Give details.
Credit
Every year, the Scale of Finance for each crop will be fixed by the State Level Technical Committee Meeting convened by Telangana State Cooperative Apex Bank Limited at State Level in accordance to the proceedings of the District Level Technical Committee Meetings duly considering the cost of cultivation of the crops and submit to the Bankers.
  • During the Vanakalam and Yasangi seasons in the regular training programmes organised at RythuVedikas, the farmers were created awareness as per their eligibility and scale of finance.
  • The credit facility extended to the farmers by Bankers will be regularly reviewed at Mandal level in JMLBC, at District level in DLCC and at state level in SLBC meetings.
Crop Insurance:
The Department of Agriculture, Telangana did not issue notification implementation of Crop Insurance Scheme from 2020-21. However, as per the G.O.312, Dt: 11.06.2021 of the A&C (Agri.II) Dept., Government is providing financial assistance to farmers under Agriculture Investment Support Scheme (RythuBandhu) by way of grant at Rs 5000 per acre per Agriculture season towards purchase of inputs like seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, and towards labour and other investments including Crop Insurance by the farmers.

In spite of mechanisation, agriculture still depends on unpredictable weather, floods. How do we overcome this hurdle?
The following are the methods followed to overcome the unpredictable weather conditions
  • Establishing Close linkage with Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), in disseminating the local specified weather report through Mandal/Village level officials to prepare for adverse seasonal conditions well in advance.
  • Department prepares Contingency plans for supply of alternate crop seed on subsidy in case of late onset of Monsoon/dry spell.
  • Field level officers visit the fields and give technical guidance and specific instructions as per the recommendations of Agricultural University Scientists from time to time.
  • Wide publicity is given among farming community through print media on measures to be taken for different crops affected due to any natural calamity.
Telangana Government is taking steps for training farmers. Give details.
  • Government of Telangana is organising trainings to farmers in RythuVedikas on every Tuesday and Friday duly creating awareness on Departmental Schemes, Crop Booking, RythuBandhu, RythuBima, Crop Loan Waiver, Awareness on Fertiliser Application, Green Manure Crops and specially crop diversification during Yasangi 2021-22.
  • The RythuVedikas has served as a platform for discussion on Innovative technologies and sharing of information between the farmers.
Tell us about the various schemes being implemented by the state government for farmers’ welfare.
Telangana Government is implementing various flagship schemes for the welfare of farmers. The following are the state sector schemes implemented for the year 2021-22.  
  1. RythuBandhu
  2. RythuBima
  3. Debt Relief To Farmers
  4. RythuVedikas
  5. Strengthening of IT
What is the success of Telangana agriculture policy?
Telang
ana Government is implementing schemes like RythuBandhu, RythuBima , and Crop Loan waiver to support the farmers.

RythuBandhu
Government of Telangana is providing financial assistance to the farmers under Agriculture Investment Support Scheme (RythuBandhu) from the year 2018-2019 with the objective of relieving the farmers from debt burden and not allowing them to fall in the debt trap.  

This scheme was proposed for providing initial investment support to agriculture and horticulture crops by way of grant at Rs 4000 per acre per agricultural season during 2018-19 and Rs 5000 per acre per agricultural season from 2019-2020 onwards towards purchase of inputs like seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and towards labour and other investments including crop insurance by the farmers to grow a crop as per farmers’ choice during the crop season.

So far an amount of Rs 43036.64 crore is deposited into farmers accounts benefitting 60.84 lakh pattadars.

RythuBima
Government of Telangana introduced group life insurance scheme for all the farmers in the state of Telangana from the year 2018-19. The farmers in the age group of 18–59 are eligible under this scheme and the sum assured of Rs 5 lakh is being paid on death, due to any cause, to the nominee of the enrolled farmer, declared by him/her at the time of enrolment.

The main objective of the scheme is to provide financial relief and security to the family members/ dependents of the deceased farmer (Pattadar) in case of his/ her death. So far, the Government has settled claims to an extent of Rs 3527.50 crore and transferred the amount to the 70550 bereaved families.

RythuVedika:
Government of Telangana has taken an initiative to construct 2604 RythuVedika Work Sheds in every Agriculture Extension Officer Cluster consisting of 1-3 villages.

The main objective of construction of RythuVedika work sheds is to create a platform for the farmers to interact and share the knowledge, to conduct and organise trainings and awareness campaigns on the latest Agriculture know how.

Recruitment of AEOs
In order to strengthen the extension system, the department has recruited 1526 AEOs after formation of Telangana (one AEO for every 5000 acre).

Crop loan waiver scheme 2014-15:
Government has waived off Rs 16,144.10 crore for 35,31,913 farmers of their outstanding crop loans, in 4 annual installments in the state and the implementation of the scheme is completed.

Crop loan waiver scheme 2018:
Government of Telangana has once again declared Crop Loan Waiver scheme for the benefit of farming community duly intimating the cut off date as December 11, 2018.

During 2021-22, the farmers who have outstanding loan up to Rs25,000 only are waived  off in the First Phase. An amount of Rs 408.38 crore was credited into 2,96,571 farmers loan accounts in first phase during 2020-21.

In second phase, the outstanding amounts of the farmers upto Rs 50,000 were waived off through RBI e-kuber module. As on December 17, 2021, an amount of Rs 691.82 crore was released to 215191 farmers.

Crop Booking
Telangana Government has introduced Crop Booking feature which is first of its kind where in survey number wise screen was introduced during Vanakalam 2021 to ensure recording of crop by AEOs by actually seeing the crop and will continue in Yasangi 2021 season also.

The exact recording of crop booking areas is utilised in correct assessment of production, minimise problems in procurement process, reduce drudgery of farmers while they come to the procurement centres, the data is used in planning purpose at the state level with regard to input requirement.
 
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