Dharamshala : The focus of the State Government is to empowering farmers organisations and SHGs at cluster, district and apex levels, implement crop diversification plans (CDPs), post-harvest, value addition etc so that the farm income of the farmers of the State could be double by 2022 as envisioned by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was stated by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur while presiding over the inaugural session of international workshop on “impact of crop diversification on farmers income and food security” at Dharamshala today organised by department of Agriculture.
Chief Minister said the majority of farmers of the State were marginal and small and about 80 percent of the cropped area was rainfed. He said that the Department of Agriculture proposed a loan project for JICA funding covering five most potential districts of the State for crop diversification. The loan agreement of the project was signed in February, 2011 with a total project cost of Rs. 321 crore out of which Rs. 266 crore was a loan amount.
Jai Ram Thakur said that the main objectives of the project was to increase area and production of vegetables through crop diversification, raise income of small and marginal farmers, create infrastructure for irrigation, farm access roads, marketing as well as formation of Krishak Vikas Associations to take over operations and management of irrigation systems besides capacity building of farmers and extension officers of Department of Agriculture. He said that the project was being implemented in close coordination of JICA Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) as a comprehensive program. He said that the farmers income has increased substantially after providing irrigation facility and taking up vegetables cultivation by them.
CM said that there was vast potential of offseason vegetables cultivation in the state. The state Government has created 59 market yards to ensure remunerative price to the farmers, but we require many more such markets in the state so that the farmers have easy access to them the market yards need to be linked with the national agriculture market for better price realization to the farmers for which the process has already started. In order to promote e-NAM and direct marketing of agriculture produced in the state, the state government is committed to provide legal framework.
He said that the Crop Diversification Plan (CDP) implementation was in progress in these sub-projects and other activities like construction of collection centers, farm access roads, solar pumping system, micro irrigation systems, poly-houses, vermi-compost units have also been completed in most of the sites and remaining works would be completed in the near future. CM said that community participation during planning, execution as well as operation & maintenance of irrigation systems was vital for the success of the project. He said that Krishak Vikas Associations (KVAs) were doing bara-bandi (water distribution) and collecting water charges. He said that irrigation efficiency has been increased by 40-60 percent through micro irrigation system in lift and Tube-well irrigation systems although only about 20 per cent farmland of the State has been brought under irrigation facilities.
He said that the State Government has introduced Poly-house cultivation in the project to supply quality planting material and precision farming. In addition to it, new machinery suitable for hilly areas like power tiller, power weeder, motorized reaper, bush cutter, earth auger, etc. has been introduced through KVAs on custom hiring as well as to group of farmers. the second Phase of the JICA project worth Rs. 1104 crore has been posed for funding which would be approved soon and would be implemented in all the twelve districts of the State. He said that the state government has started solar fencing project to save the crop of the farmers from wild and stay animals. The Chief Minister released various publications and souvenir on the occasion.