Increase in Himachal farmers' income with diversified crops

A Japanese-funded crop diversification project in Himachal Pradesh had led a significant increase in average net farm income as a fourfold increase in income of participating farmers, as per a study, officials said on Sunday.

Funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Rs 321 crore Himachal Pradesh Crop Diversification Promotion Project is being implemented in the hill state’s Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi and Una districts.

The study on the project’s first phase (2011-18) was carried out by the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management.

The project, with the targeted outcome to improve the socio-economic status of the farmers, also aims to develop infrastructure such as irrigation facilities and farm access roads while providing technical training to the farmers on vegetable cultivation, food grain cultivation and post-harvesting technology.

Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Onkar Sharma said after the success of the first phase, the project has been extended till 2020.

He said the Central government has given in principle approval to Phase-II with an outlay of Rs 1,104 crore and it would be implemented in all 12 districts of the state. This project has been sent to JICA for fund approval.

Implementation of the project in five districts has witnessed a considerable shift in the area from cereals to vegetables after irrigation facility was provided through this project, said Sharma citing the report.

In order to boost agricultural development and enhance farm income, it is important to increase productivity of the existing cultivated area, through shifting from self-subsistence cultivation to diversified agriculture, by adopting cash crops such as vegetables suitable in hilly and highland areas, it said.

To accomplish this goal, it is important to overcome constraints like shortage of irrigation facilities, farm roads and insufficient marketing facilities, it added.