Union finance minister P Chidambaram who inaugurated the new premises of the Rural Training Centre (RTC) in Amaravathipudur, 9 km away from Karaikudi town on Saturday, urged farmers to develop skills in non-farming activities to augment their incomes.
The RTC at Karaikudi was inaugurated in July 2005 with the aim of offering training to rural people in fields like agriculture, animal husbandry, small and micro enterprises and cottage industries. The RTC campus which was functioning in a rented building was provided 10 acres in Amaravathipudur village in 2008 and the full-fledged campus has been constructed at a cost of Rs 6.96 crore.
Thenew campus has been equipped with an administrative block consisting of four classrooms, library, computer lab, conference hall, mini-conference hall, auditorium with seating capacity of 200 persons and rooms for administrative staff and faculty. There is also a hostel block to accommodate 100 trainees, four guest rooms with dining and kitchen facilities. The centre offers training in dairy, sheep rearing, poultry, embroidery, palm craft, tailoring, fashion technology, mobile phone servicing, beautician courses, home appliances servicing, napkin making, four-wheeler driving classes, two-wheeler mechanisms, refrigerator and air-conditioner servicing with the training period ranging from 2 to 25 days. According to the centre authorities, 5,768 candidates were trained so far including 43 differently-abled, 3,787 women and 1,098 SC/ST candidates. The centre is jointly managed by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Indian Overseas Bank and Indian Bank. Inaugurating the campus, Chidambaram said farmers need skill development in a country where 60% of the people were dependent on agriculture. "Agriculture in India is rain-fed and it is turning unviable due to factors like irregular rainfall, depleting ground water, largely contributed by climate change," he said. "But agriculture cannot be abandoned in a country like ours with a huge population as importing foodgrains or other farm products is unimaginable. We need to cultivate our lands in spite of challenging times. The Central government is giving additional impetus to irrigation facilities," he said. He said the Centre planned to disburse Rs 5.75 lakh crore worth crop and agricultural loans, the minister said, with a seven percent interest rate reducible further to four percent in case of prompt repayment. "However, it is important that farmers hone their skills in non-farming activities as well," he said. "Agriculture alone will not provide sufficient income for farmers as agricultural activities are seasonal. Hence, it is important that they learn new skills to augment their income.