State encouraging farm mechanisation through ‘custom hiring centres’

The State Government, through the Department of Agriculture, is popularising the concept of ‘custom hiring centres’ as part of achieving the objective of farm mechanisation through upgradation of technology for raising agriculture and horticulture crops. The department is following a two-pronged strategy of encouraging big farmers or a group of farmers to come together for purchasing high cost machinery for running custom hiring centres. The custom hiring centres will give farm machinery on rental basis to farmers who cannot afford to purchase high-end agricultural machinery and equipment apart from servicing old machinery. The centres will play a pivotal role in introducing high technology agriculture machinery to even ordinary farmers with the objective to boost crop production and improve quality of agriculture operations.

Agriculture Officer S. Sri Devi told The Hindu that the government has set apart Rs.2.70 crore for facilitating the establishment of custom hiring centres in the 2012-13 year as part of its efforts to set up the centres in every mandal in a phased manner in the district. Last year about 2,759 farmers were benefited by the mechanisation initiatives of the government. A sum of Rs.1.03 crore was spent on farm mechanisation in 2011-12. Initially the centres were set up in 10 agriculture divisions in the district but the strategy is to set up a centre in each of the 42 mandals in the district. The second strategy is to encourage individual farmers to dispense with manual methods of land tilling, seeding, transplanting, harvesting and processing of paddy crop or any other crop for that matter. Some of the high cost machinery that will be available in the centres includes laser-guided land levellers, soil pulverisers, 4 wheel tractor with rotovators (blades), nursery seedling machines, power weeders, and rice transplanters and combined harvesters. The cost of the machinery is anywhere from Rs.26 lakh to Rs.80 lakhs with the government providing 50 per cent subsidy. Besides for systematic sugarcane intensification (SSI) the hiring centres will acquire sugarcane planters, sub-surface drip laying machinery and sugarcane harvester. The cost of each SSI centre is Rs.1.33 crore with a government subsidy of Rs.33.34 lakh and the remaining is to be borne by the farmers group.

Machines contributing to farm mechanisation include mini-tractor of 18 and 24 hp with rotovator, high capacity multi-crop thresher, cotton planter, power tiller, seed drills and paddy reaper. The scheme will be implemented every year on a continuous basis.

The customer hiring centres will also engage in servicing of agriculture implements and under the implement service station approach, each village will request for implements which are suitable for the village from either a group of farmers or individuals financially able to set up the centres. The service station will also attend to repairs of the implements. Small farm implements like sprayers and cultivators will be supplied on 50 per cent subsidy. The high-end machinery can service an area of 500 acres in a village and regular income can be earned by hiring the machines. The sugarcane intensification system will help improve sugarcane yields and in effective water management apart from mechanised cutting of the sugarcane crop.

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