To scale up the farm livelihood sector which engulfs more than three lakh rural women of Kerala some policy interventions were attempted by Kudumbashree Mission Agriculture viz., Agriculture technology fund, Value addition unit fund and organic farming additional incentive package. Agriculture inevitably, needs technology infusion to accelerate the production to feed the growing population. The technology deficit gap needs to be filled on a fast track basis to match productivity ratios with the rest of the country/world. New technologies are needed to push the yield frontiers further, utilize inputs more efficiently and diversify to more sustainable and higher value cropping systems.
Sixty thousand JLGs are currently engaged in farm livelihood activities of Kudumbashree and have been enjoying traditional method of agriculture. Encouraging the farmers, based on the micro environment that basically contain need, demand, feasibility and sustainability of the venture, support structures, convergence opportunities etc., to adopt latest agricultural technologies or innovative enterprises would be beneficial to enter into the next realm of farming activities. Agriculture technological fund was launched during 2018-19 which extends financial assistance for implementing latest agricultural technologies through the adoption of novel technologies including improved varieties, innovative ideas, innovative crop management system, superior post-harvest processing techniques and value addition units etc. The fund supports the interested JLGs in terms of capital subsidy of 40% of the project cost or Rs 2 lakh, whichever is lesser. Tricho card units. VAM units, hydroponics, aqua ponics. rain shelters, tissue culture labs etc are some of the initiatives already identified under this initiative.
Value addition fund extends financial support to interested groups for establishing units in various crops like coconut, banana, mango, jack fruit, pine apple, passion fruit etc as part of the value chain activity. The value addition units would be established by groups based on local availability of the produce and preference of the community. The subsidy scheme is loan linked. Each value addition unit can have a maximum of 40% or Rs 2 lakhs whichever is lesser to each as subsidy for establishment.
Kudumbashree has ventured into the realm of organic cultivation to promote organic farming and agricultural commodities with organic certification. The project launched during 2018-19 envisages bringing 10,000 Ha under organic farming in 201 clusters all across Kerala. This mission expects an involvement of around one lakh Kudumbashree women farmers through 20000 Joint Liability Groups. Realising the fact that there will be yield reduction in the initial years of organic practice and also that the bio inputs are costlier than the conventional inputs it was decided to support and encourage the farmers who venture into organic farming by providing them with 10% additional area incentive from the existing pattern. This incentive will be provided for the first three years of cultivation only and restricted to those who are registered under the organic programme of Kudumbashree Mission.