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`Krishi' channel launched

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 21. The Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today called for efforts to diversify Indian agriculture so that the country could attain self-sufficiency in all types of farm products and tap the potential for exports in areas such as floriculture.

Launching a separate `krishi' television channel and a network of call centres for the benefit of the farming community, he said India had achieved self-sufficiency in foodgrains production because of the efforts of the farmers and agricultural scientists. But, unfortunately, it continued to import several other agricultural products such as pulses and edible oils.

The farmers, he said, could also tap the rich potential for export of flowers to European countries. India has been exporting flowers to the region. But more could be done. "Faced with sun-less weather for most part of the year, the people in the region thirst for fresh flowers every day. Farmers here could grow flowers particularly to meet that demand."

Urging the farmers to make the best use of the new `krishi' channel and the call centre network, he hoped the programmes would provide proper information and advice to farmers on various aspects of agriculture and help improve productivity.

The Krishi channel, launched on the platform of the satellite cable television channel of the Indira Gandhi National Open University, will, to begin with, telecast a one-hour programme four times a day for the next one year. After that, the duration would be increased and it was planned to have four three-hour programmes a day by the end of December 2006.

Under the call centre programme, farmers can get up-to-date expert advice on various facets by merely dialling a toll-free number.

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