Farmers must be ready to deal with malls: Deshmukh

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Nagpur, May 30 (UNI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today called upon farmers in the state to be ready to deal with Malls and study all aspects of the business, including the legal complexities.

Speaking after inaugurating the 36th meeting of the Joint Agricultural Research and Development Committee here, Mr Deshmukh said farmers must 'prepare themselves' to conduct business with these commercial establishments. Agriculture universities in Maharashtra must also train farmers to deal with malls, he said.

The effort of the government was to reduce the gap between the cultivator and the end consumer, and to eliminate the middlemen, Mr Deshmukh said.

''The farmer gets a very low price for his produce, but the price at which it is sold to the consumer is manifold, thanks to the commission charged by numerous layers of middlemen. Thus, while farmers complain about non-remunerative prices, consumers complain about rising costs. This disparity ought to end,'' he said.

Asserting that the fruit of research must reach farmers through the government machinery, Mr Deshmukh said researchers and scientists must devise ways and means to add value to farm produce.

Describing organic farming as the way of the future, the Chief Minister said agriculture universities must establish separate departments for it. The Department of Agriculture of the state government should have an independent directorate for organic farming, he said adding in a lighter vein that there would be no fresh recruitment for it, and the workload be dealt with by the existing manpower.

Giving credit for the record production of 155 lakh tonnes of foodgrains in Maharashtra last year, the highest since the state came into being, to 'farmers, scientists, researchers and officials alike,' Mr Deshmukh said the government was making efforts to increase agricultural yield and reduce costs.

It was the result of such efforts that the prices of agro-products had increased, he said. Soybean fetched a price as high as Rs 2,300 per quintal, while even cotton shot up to a high of Rs 3,000, Deshmukh pointed out.

''Thus, albeit indirectly, we have fulfilled our election promise of giving a price of Rs 2,700 for cotton. We had said that electoral promises could be fulfilled in five years, and not necessarily immediately. We have kept our word on cotton prices with a year to spare,'' Mr Deshmukh quipped. The forecast of a rainfall of 103 per cent this monsoon meant it would be another good year for Maharashtra, he added.

UNI AB OBB SY VC2006

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