The Value-Added Agriculture Mission (VAAM) which received Cabinet nod on Wednesday is primarily aimed at doubling farmers’ income in the State, Minister for Agriculture P. Prasad has said.
Briefing the media on the mission, Mr. Prasad said it would give thrust to production methods, technologies and marketing services that would add value to primary agricultural produce and enhance their marketability. ”We feel that the incomes of farmers can be doubled if these activities are undertaken in a mission mode by the government. In the present scenario, the farmer grows crops, but the value addition is done by others who also grab the profits,” he said.
The VAAM will help identify profitable national/international markets for Kerala products by focusing on procurement, standardisation, quality control, branding and labelling. Other areas which will come under its ambit include identification of technologies and mechanisation that aid value-addition and speedier dissemination of information through a common knowledge platform.
Branding ethnic food
For VAAM, the Agriculture department will be supported by other departments, including Industries, Water Resources and Local Self-government. The mission envisages the branding of ethnic Kerala foods so that they find markets in West Asian countries with help from the Industries department and NoRKA, Mr. Prasad said.
The Agriculture department’s decision to shift from crop-based to farmstead-based planning, agro-ecological zone-based agriculture and campaigns like ‘Njangalum Krishiyilekku’ aimed at popularising household-level farming are expected to complement VAAM’s activities. While 80% of the 25,642 ‘Krishikootams’ formed under ‘Njangalum Krishiyilekku’ campaign will focus on production, the remaining 20% will be involved in processing and marketing sectors, Mr. Prasad said.
The VAAM will be chaired by the Chief Minister. The Ministers for Agriculture and Industries will be vice chairs. The governing body has eight Ministers. Special working groups will be headed by the Principal Secretary (Agriculture). At the State-level, the VAAM will have a coordinator and a Chief Operating Officer.