Speech of Hon’ble Governor of Sikkim, Shri Shriniwas Patil on the occasion of Inauguration of Academic Block of College of Agricultural Engineering and Post Harvest Technology, Ranipool on 30th November, 2013.
Respected Shri Sharad Pawarji, Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Shri Pawan Chamlingji, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri D.N. Takarpa, Hon’ble Minister, Sikkim,Vice-Chancellor, Central Agriculture University, Imphal, Dr. S.N. Puri, Distinguished guests from Government of India, Ladies and Gentlemen.
We just had a very interesting visit to Farm Equipment Museum and thoughts came to me that, simple farmers working in the field have tremendous wisdom and common-sense. I myself belong to village and have first-hand experience of rural life. This rustic wisdom must be kept in mind in research and development.
Farm mechanisation in India in general and Sikkim in particular needs a greater focus. Our farmers have small pieces of land. Size of land holding has declined from 2.30 ha in 1970-71 to 1.57 ha in 1990-91. 78% of holdings are less than 2 ha. So our farmers cannot afford the cost of heavy machinery, we in Sikkim cannot think of farmer riding a tractor! He has to have a portable machine which he can carry easily up and down the slopes. So we need simple innovations which can be easily adopted by our farmers.
We are all aware of the fact that our young generation today is not interested in taking up farming as their livelihood mainly because of the hard physical labour involved in the process. Son of a farmer today does not want to become a farmer. We can change the situation if we are able to make farming less labour intensive for example, in Sikkim we have seen that youth may not be interested in paddy cultivation but he is willing to work in a green house growing flowers because he sees green house as a symbol of modern times and the old equipments of agriculture as a symbol of backwardness.
Therefore, the role of all young agriculture engineering students is very crucial if we have to make agriculture an accepted livelihood option among our youth.
I am told that we need to double the food production by 2020. The land under agriculture is decreasing day by day, thus it is imperative that productivity has to go up, efficiency of tools and equipments has to increase. This is where the need for Colleges like this becomes critical.
Similarly, I am told that about 30-40% of perishable farm produce goes as wastage due to lack of processing facility. This is a huge loss for the farmer particularly, in our country where we have to feed a huge population. If we are able to devise food processing chains which are owned and controlled by Farmers Cooperatives then farmer will be able to get his due share. I am from Maharashtra where cooperative movement has changed lives of many farmers. We need to replicate those models in Sikkim also so that the middle-man is eliminated between the farmer and the consumer. We were told about a simple technology for packaging of cut-flowers where the shelf-life of cut flowers can be substantially increased. There is a need to popularise such small yet path-breaking initiative.
I congratulate the College of Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology, Sikkim for their achievements in this short period of their existence. The peaceful and crime-free atmosphere of Sikkim has also contributed to this growth.
We are now going to have a Horticulture College soon and I urge the State Government to expedite the process of land allocation so that our children are well-equipped to use the nature’s gift to this beautiful State.
I thank the Vice-Chancellor Dr. Puri and his team for extending this invitation to me and giving me the opportunity to be with all of you today. We have spent past three days with Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Shri Sharad Pawarji and have benefitted immensely from his presence in the State. I am personally grateful to you Sir for your visit and on behalf of the people of Sikkim I thank you for your affection towards the State.