Himachal focuses on ployhouse precision agriculture

Shimla: With industrial jobs failing to charm the youth in Himachal, the government is back focusing on reviving agriculture by introduction of growing high value crops under ployhouse precision agriculture in order to provide for remunerative livelihoods.

To give a new direction to the agrarian economy, an ambitious Rs 353 crore Pt Deen Dayal Kisan-Bhagwan Samridhi Yogna has been launched by the government, which proposes to introduce precision farming under polyhouse cultivation and diversify to make the most of high value crops, said a government spokesman.

To create 14.70 sq meters of covered space under 16,500 polyhouses backed by 12320 sprinkler irrigation systems, the government would be spending Rs 154.92 crore for the purpose, he said.

Another Rs 198 crore would be for diversification of agriculture, micro-irrigation and other related infrastructure, he added. The funds are to be spent in a time bound manner.

The program provides an 80 percent subsidy for polyhouses and for the 2650 tanks and wells to be constructed will get 50 percent subsidy. More than 10,000 jobs are expected to be created, which would enhance vegetable production by 4 to 10 times.

Launched in January, already 929 polyhouses stand sanctioned and work has begun on 219 polyhouses.

Other than the polyhouse precision farms, 20,000 hectares are targeted to be brought under sprinkler and drip irrigation facilities. As many as 17,312 mirco irrigation units to be installed by farmers would get 80 percent subsidy, said the government spokesman.

The government has empanelled 19 experienced companies for construction of polyhouses, installation of micro irrigation systems and supply of cladding materials.

To help farmers adopt crops suited to their soil the government is providing free soil testing facilities and 147,335 soil samples have bee conducted. Another 125,000 soil samples would be tested in the current year and by end of 11th plan all farmers would hold soil health cards, which will empower them to take better cropping decisions, he said.

The government is encouraging organic farming to ward off biotic pressure for control of pest and diseases as well as keep the soil healthy. As many as 3000 farmers have registered for organic farming.

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