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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami today sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention in ensuring that three agricultural reserach intsitutes in the state were not closed down or merged with other Indian Council of Agricultural Research institutes. Palaniswami told Modi he earlier took up with Union Minister for Agriculture, Radha Mohan Singh, the 'likely' closure of Sugarcane Breeding Institute at Coimbatore,National Research Centre for Banana, Tiruchirapalli and the Central Institute of Brackish water Aquaculture (CIBA) at Chennai. They were also likely to be meged with other Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes in the country, Palaniswami told Modi in a letter. The Sugarcane Breeding Institute has been serving the farming community since 1912 and varieties released by it were popular among sugarcane growers of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, he said. With an aim to increase cane yield/high sugar recovery, and to enable better remuneration for sugarcane growers, the state government was keen that this institute "is not closed or merged with other ICAR institutions," he said. The banana research centre was contributing "very significantly" in increasing production and productivity of banana to meet the growing demand of varieties in India and abroad, he added. CIBA, Palaniswami said,provided regular technical support to Tamil Nadu and all other coastal states in brackish water aquaculture. "As you may be aware, lakhs of people in Tamil Nadu are engaged directly or indirectly in cultivation of Vennamei shrimp, which has boosted the economic contribution of Tamil Nadu fisheries sector considerably." The continuous handholding support of such a premier institution to aquaculture farmers was inevitable in sustaining aquaculture production of the state, he told Modi. Import and quarantine of Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) mother shrimps were allowed by the Government of India only through the Chennai International Airport and due referral services for pathogens were being provided by ICAR-CIBA to Union Ministry of Agriculture and to the aquaculture community of the whole country, he said. Aquaculture was 'blossoming' into a sustainable livelihood option for fishermen in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, especially along the 1,076 km long coastline of his state, which, he said, has 56,000 hectares of potential brackish water area. The closure or merger of these institutes would have a detrimental impact on the interest of farmers and fishermen of Tamil Nadu, Palaniswami said, adding, he had already addressed Singh on retaining these premier institutes "as such." He urged Modi to issue necessary instructions to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare "to continue the activities of these institutes to function as such without closure or merger with other institutions, in order to safeguard the interest of farmers and fisherfolk of Tamil Nadu.
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