Agri gains pace in HP; Rs 2 cr for extension reforms programme


    Courtesy: PR DEPTT, HP GOVT

    Agriculture being the main occupation of 92 per cent rural population of Himachal Pradesh plays an important role in the economy of the State. Agriculture and allied sector accounts for nearly 22.1 per cent of the total State Domestic Product. To improve and extend more agriculture activities in the State, many Centrally Sponsored Schemes are being implemented. For extension and transfer of technology, a new programme of Extension Reforms has also been started under which seven districts have been taken up Rs. 2 crore are being spent under this programme every year.

    Under Extension Reform programme, seven districts have been covered, out of which four viz Shimla, Hamirpur, Kangra and Bilaspur districts are National Agriculture Technology Project District and the three new included Kullu, Mandi and Una. For the year, 2005-2006, the approved outlay under this scheme was Rs. 171.27 lakh against which total amount received as central share is Rs. 122 lakh. This programme is being run on society mode in each district, Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) has been set up. Besides Agriculture, other line Departments like Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Universities are also participating in this programme. At Block-level, Block Technology Teams and Farmers Advisory Committees have been constituted and Block-level Farmers Interest Groups, Self-Help Groups and Farmers Organizations have also been constituted.

    In order to identify the gaps in technology dissemination and research, Strategic Research Extension Plan has been prepared for each district and based on that, the District Extension Work Plans are prepared and funded on annual basis. The impact of the programme in HATP districts has been documented whereas, in new Districts, the programme has just started and it will have impact in the near future. Out of total geographical area of 55.67 lac hectare, area of Operational holding is about 9.99 lac hectare owned by 8.63 lakh farmers. The average size of holding is 1.2 hectare. Marginal and small farmers constitute 84.5 percent of total level holdings. The semi and medium holding together constitute 14.9 percent and the large holdings cover only 0.6 percent. About 47 percent of operational area belongs to small and marginal farmers.

    Out of total number of holdings, 22.36 percent holdings are with scheduled caste and 4.1 percent with the scheduled tribes. It provides direct employment to 71 percent of main working population. In order to strengthen the Agricultural activities in the State, another Centrally Sponsored Scheme, Macro Management of Agriculture through Work Plan has been implemented in the State. Under this scheme, total approved outlay during 2005-2006 was Rs. 1,954.93 lakh against which the expenditure is Rs. 1,863.72 lac. For the year, 2006-2007, the approved outlay under the scheme is Rs. 2,267 lac including State share of Rs. 227 lakh.

    The Government of India has also released 50 percent Central share amounting to Rs. 1,020 lakh and the programmes are being implemented as per the work plan. 2 Under Promotion and strengthening of Agricultural Mechanization scheme, Rs. 6.49 lakh has been provided during 2005-2006 and 250 demonstrations have been laid out like self-propelled reaper, vegetable transplants, multi-crop plants, power tiller, raised bed plants etc.

    For the year, 2006-2007, a proposal of Rs. 4.50 lakh has been submitted to the Government of India for laying out demonstrations on new equipments. In order to raise economic conditions of the farmers, diversification of cropping pattern has been given big boost in the State. The area under off-season vegetables, which was 35220 hectares ending March, 2003 has now increased to 47,000 hectares. Similarly, the production of vegetables which was 6.21 lakh MT has now increased to a level of 9 lakh MT. The increase in production in the last three years has generated additional revenue of Rs. 175 crore.

    The Department is promoting crop diversification in potential areas through trainings and demonstrations, area expansion, pest management and project approach has been adopted. It is proposed to cover 50,000 hectare area with a production of 10 lakh MT of vegetables by the end of 10th Five Year Plan, which will generate revenue of Rs. 600 crore annually. During the year, 2005-2006, 5,000 hectare area has been diversified from traditional crops to high value crops with 85,000 tonnes additional production of vegetables. State offers agro-ecological advantage for organic farming to avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

    Under National Project on Organic Farming project, a sum of Rs. 12.70 lakh was provided for training. A proposal of Rs. 32 lac has been submitted to the Government of India for approval for the year, 2006-2007. Besides, the Department has taken up one project of organic farming in Shimla district for which 5000 farmers have been registered. A new Bio-Control laboratory is also being set up soon at Mandi with financial outlay of Rs. 70 lakh.

    The certification agencies like ONECERT and SGS will be certifying the organic produce in the State. The funds have been provided by the Government of India and the laboratory shall be made functional by the end of this year. Extensive credit plans are being developed and the farm credit access to the farmers being improved through issuance of Kisan Credit Cards. Out of 8.63 lakh farmers, 4.50 lakh farmers have been provided soil health cards. In the next 3-4 years, all farmers shall be provided soil health cards. Efforts are afoot to make Himachal Pradesh self-sufficient in Agriculture production and also improving economy of the farmers.

    The necessities of the farmers being taken care of by the Government has resulted in a steep rise in the flood production.

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    A perfect story-teller, who is madly in love with the hills. Shimla is his first love, and probably the last too. Won't get tired reading Rudyard Kipling. Hopes to pick up poetry again soon.

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