The State Government has accorded top priority to agriculture sector with a view to double the income of the farmers within next five years. A dozen centrally sponsored schemes being implemented in the State have proved a boon in this direction.
The schemes are mainly being implemented on 90:10 basis with main objectives of increasing irrigation facilities, encouraging off-season vegetable, organic farming and diversification of cropping pattern in the State. At present about 5.42 lac hectare land is under cultivation out of which 80% area depends on rains for irrigation.
National Agriculture Development Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Agro-Irrigation Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Yojna and Soil Testing scheme have mainly influenced the farmers to come forward to adopt new crop-pattern, particularly the cash crops to transform their economy.
Under National Agriculture Development Scheme, agricultural plans have been prepared in association with the farmers for the first time in the State, keeping in view the local priorities and needs to ensure at least 4% inclusive growth in the agriculture sector in the State. Under this scheme, about Rs. 25.50 crore has been allocated in this year and 5 projects of amount Rs. 12.14 crore have also been approved.
Another important ‘Pradhan Mantri Agro-Irrigation Scheme’ has also been initiated with a view to ensure irrigation facility to every field (Har Khet ko Pani) so that agriculture production could be increased in the State. So far, Rs. 11.50 crore has been allocated under this scheme and farmers are being encouraged to utilize every drop of water to increase production.
Keeping in view the importance of soil testing in food production, free soil testing facilities have been created in the State. So far, 6.15 lac Soil Health cards have been distributed to the farmers. A network of 11 permanent soil testing laboratories, 9 mobile soil testing laboratories and 47 mini laboratories have been established to ensure proper guidance to the farmers. A new scheme to encourage youth to establish soil testing laboratories in their respective areas has been started. To establish testing laboratory as a self-venture, 40% subsidy would be given to the interested youth, up to the expenditure of Rs. 25 lac.
‘Pradhan Mantri’ Crop Insurance is another flagship scheme being implemented in the State to safeguard the interests of the farmers in case of adverse climatic conditions. The scheme has been made compulsory for loan seekers and voluntarly for other farmers. Tomato, Ginger, Peas, Capsicum and Garlic crops have been specially brought under the purview of this insurance scheme. Post-harvesting damage to the crops has also been covered under the scheme.
Organic farming is another priority area of the Government and efforts are being made to encourage the farmers to go for this in a big way in the State. So far, about 40 thousand farmers have been registered under the scheme and about 22 thousand hectare area has been brought under the organic farming.
The successful implementation of other important schemes such as JICA for diversification of crops and ATMA for agriculture extension activities have already encouraged the farmers to adopt new agriculture techniques and cash crops. Himachal Pradesh has already earned a name in field of off-season vegetable and mushroom production. It is hoped that the State would soon emerge as a pioneer State in organic farming also.