There is need for setting up fodder bank: Thorat

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Pune, July 28 (UNI) Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Balasaheb Thorat today said despite rains for the past three to four days, drought-like situation has not improved and the availability of fodder is posing to be a problem, expressing the need for setting up of 'fodder banks'.

Talking to reporters after a review meeting with district officials, the Agriculture Minister said that the past three years had been very good.

There was record food grain production upto 155 lakh tonnes in the state. This year, in nearly 18 districts there has been far less than 50 per cent rains and in talukas like Baramati there has been no rain, he said. This is going to be a difficult year as the Kharif crop has not been good due to the scanty rain.

''The water levels are low and the picture is worrisome for dams. We are all touring and going to the fields to think of new ways to get on top of the drought like situation. We are mobilising all our resources to get the exact damages and loss to present to the Central Team, that is expected to arrive soon,'' he informed.

When asked about the estimate of losses, the minister said that it was early to assess, but the process was on. We hope to have a better Rabi season depending on the rains. Last year Kharif crop covered a total of 1.38 hectare, this year we are still awaiting the figures, he said.

When asked about the fodder banks, the minister said that they were looking at the possibility of using vast tracts of land under various Agricultural Colleges and the State Agriculture Marketing Board for growing fodder. In future we may have fodder depots along with the animal chavnis.

He said that a tender for dry and green fodder had already been floated in Solapur where farmers were in deep financial crisis. ''We are trying to find solutions for every district and will visit Nagpur, Aurangabad and Nashik next,'' he said.

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