Japan Aided Rs 950 Cr. Enhanced Farm Income Project Awaits Final Nod in Himachal

Shimla: Study of a multi-million dollar Japan aided ‘diversified agriculture for enhanced farm income’ project stands completed and awaits a nod from the department of economic affairs (DOEA) before it can be operationalised, top government official disclosed.

The long term Rs 950 crore project has been on the drawing table for over two years now and is taking a holistic approach towards farmers support program, infrastructure development and institutional development, said Ram Subagh Singh, secretary agriculture.

The central ministry of agriculture has already cleared the project and now it awaits clearance from the economic affairs ministry, he said.

To be funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) the project devolves to state on a 90:10 grant:loan basis and the first pilot is slated to be implemented in the districts of Kangra, Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Una and Hamirpur.

While the whole project has a ten year implementation period, the pilot is to be rolled out over the next three years, said Singh. The pilot is expected to involve an investment of Rs 250 to 300 crores, he added.

Besides substituting low value with high value crops such as off season vegetable production, the farmer support component will cater to increasing productivity, sustainable use of water resources, post harvest processing and crop protection techniques.

Investments in developing infrastructure would go into minor and micro irrigation schemes which include drip irrigations systems, supporting water user associations, strengthening rural motor roads and carrying out repairs on mule tracks and footpaths.

Institutional investments would involve capacity building, extension services, and improving soil diagnostic systems by installing auto analyser labs for soil testing. Web based market intervention scheme is also proposed under the project that will help to build linkages between the farmers and the market.

“The objective is to enhance the incomes of the small and marginal farmer, in particular, by adopting cash rich crops, using improved plant material, adopting sustainable growing practices and stitching up backward and forward linkages from growing, transportation to marketing and processing,” said Singh.

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