Agriculture is the major occupation of the people of Himachal and this sector has always played a significant role in agrarian economy of the state. As per 2011 census, Himachal is the only state in India where 89.96 percent population dwells in rural areas and 70 percent persons directly depending upon agriculture.
Agri sector alone contributes 10.4 percent in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the state. 5.42 lakh hectare of land is under cultivation in the state out of which 80 percent of land depending upon the rain. Climatic conditions of the state are favourable for the production of cash crops like potato, ginger, garlic and off season vegetables.
The state government has started several schemes to boost agricultural activities to improve the economy of farmers. Rs. 482 crore budget provision has been made for this sector during current fiscal.
Rs. 321 crore Himachal Pradesh Crop Diversification project with the assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency has been started in the state since June, 2011. The main objective of this project is ensuring crop diversification by providing the farmers the irrigation facilities and link roads upto their fields, promoting organic produce besides vegetable production and marketing through self-help groups, for which they are provided technical knowhow. Presently, scheme is being implemented in five districts viz: Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Mandi, Kangra and Una for seven years. Under the project, 247 small irrigation schemes and 147 link roads would be constructed besides installation on 37 collection centres. Rs. 60 crore were spent during 2015-16 whereas a provision of Rs. 80 crore has been made for current fiscal under the scheme.
The State Government has implemented Rs. 111.19 crore ‘Dr YS Parmar Farmers Self Employment Scheme’ for crop diversification, production of off season vegetables and development of infrastructural facilities. Construction of poly houses and small irrigation schemes would be covered under the project. The Farmers are being provided 85 percent subsidy on Polyhouses, drip irrigation units and sprinklars. Under the scheme, 4700 poly houses and 2150 sprinkurlar/drip units are being installed during the period 2014-15 to 2017-18 besides installation of 870 water sources on 50 percent subsidy.
Under the scheme, a target of covering 8.35 lakh Sqmt of area under reserve agriculture and 8.20 lakh sqmt under small irrigation. Rs. 25 crore were spent during last fiscal and Rs. 15 crore provision has been made for the current financial year. As many as 1276 poly houses have been constructed covering 2.34 lakh sqmtr of area.
‘National Agriculture Development Plan’ has been implemented in the State so as to achieve 4 percent growth in agriculture and allied sectors. The objective of the scheme is to promote investment in agriculture sector besides increasing the farmers income.
In order to enhance the production of paddy, maize, pulses and wheat ‘National Food Security Campaign’ has been started in the state, under which the farmers are provided financial and technical assistance. Rs. 17.88 crore budget provision has been made under the scheme during this fiscal, out of which Rs. 1.36 crore would be spent on paddy production, Rs. 9 crore on wheat, Rs.3.19 crore on maize and Rs. 4.33 crore on pulses. A target of production of 9.4 lakh tonne grains has been fixed during this kharif season, which comprises 7.50 lakh tonne maize, 1.31 lakh tonne paddy besides 4.8 thousand MT oil seeds, 1.95 lakh MT potato, 35 thousand tonne ginger and 15 lakh tonne vegetables. Farmers are being provided 25.600 qtl. quality seeds, 22000 tonne fertilizers, 100 qtl. organic fertilizers, 95 tonne pesticides and 55000 improved tools.
Marketing yards and small vegetable collection centres are being established at various places to facilitate the farmers in marketing their produce. Apart from this, the present state government is laying emphasis on marketing through cold stores and fruit vegetable yards.
So far Government initiatives has brought satisfactory results with grain production reaching a new height of 16.74 lakh MT during 2014-15, besides 1.81 lakh MT of potato crop was also produced in the State.