Agriculture is the main occupation of people of Himachal Pradesh which is playing an important role in strengthening the economy of the State. Himachal Pradesh is the only state where 89.96 percent of the population lives in rural areas, therefore the dependency on agriculture and horticulture is much higher as compare to other states. There is a vast scope in agriculture and horticulture in state, due to which 62 percent of states people get employment in agriculture sector. It is the main source of income for people of State and about 10 percent domestic product of state comes from agriculture and related areas.
To boost up agriculture sector, the State government has launched various schemes to give new direction to agriculture sector and many other new schemes have been proposed so that people get maximum employment in this area and at the same time their income. The State Government is making every possible effort to strengthen the economy with full commitment to double the income of farmers by 2022 as has been announced by the Prime Minister.
The income of farmers will increase only when their production will increase. To achieve this motive, there is a need to strengthen adequate irrigation facilities. For this, State government has started three new irrigation schemes- ‘Jal se Krishi ko bal', Flow Irrigation Scheme’, and ‘Solar Irrigation Scheme’. Under these schemes, Rs. 250, 150 and 200 crores have been sanctioned. Apart from this under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Irrigation Scheme, new units of 111 minor irrigation schemes have been set up and a sum of Rs. 338 crore have been sanctioned for it. First installment of Rs. 49 crore in form of central assistance has already been received. Simultaneously, a budget of Rs. 277 crore has been made for the development of small irrigation schemes in the state. The State Government has already sent proposal of Rs. 800 crore to Central Government to strengthen the irrigation facilities and to repair old irrigation and drinking water sources. In addition to this, Government has reduced the current tariff of electricity for irrigation from Rs. 1 per unit to 75 paisa per unit, which will facilitate lakhs of farmers of the state.
In view of increasing the income of farmers of the State, the Cabinet has approved the guidelines for the implementation of ‘Natural Farming-Khushal Kisan’ scheme. Under the scheme, the income of farmers will increase through natural farming and a provision of Rs. 25 crore has been made for the implementation of this scheme. This scheme will give new direction to natural agriculture and farmers will get encouraged to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers. State Agriculture University will prepare package of practices for implementation of this scheme.
The State Government has taken a decision to bring additional area under fruit and vegetable production in the State. Presently JICA Crop Diversification Scheme has been implemented in five districts of the State. Now, the second phase of this scheme will be implemented in all the districts at a cost of Rs. 1000 crore. This will provide new direction to the agriculture in the State.
Under ‘YS Parmar Kisan Swarojgar Yojna’, Poly-houses will be constructed for the promotion of safe farming in the State. Budget of Rs. 23 crore has been made for this during the year 2018-19. For the protection of farmer's crop from monkeys, wild animals and stray cattles, a provision of 35 crore has been made. Under ‘Chief Minister's Farm Protection Scheme’, farmers will be given 85 percent subsidy for solar fencing.
Apart from this, the State government is trying to double the income of the farmers by expanding activities in various sectors of agriculture such as flower cultivation, bee-keeping, fisheries and dairy production.
Mechanization of agriculture due to shortage of manpower is the demand of time. Many farmers are unable to purchase farming equipments such as tractor, power wielder, power tiller due to its higher prices. For this, Government will set up ‘Agriculture Facilitation Centers’ and farmers will be able to get necessary expensive equipment on rent. To establish these centers, the government will provide 40 percent subsidy on instruments costing upto 25 lakh to the farmers and youth entrepreneurs. To provide equipments like tillers, potter, weaver, power tillers to farmers, a provision of Rs. 32 crore has been made by government.
Under the measure to reduce the cost of production, for balanced utilization of nutrients in the year 2018-19 all the farmers will be brought under soil health card scheme. The climate of state is suitable for non-seasonal vegetables. The state government will distribute high yielding seeds to the framers. Grains of good quality seeds will also be distributed under subsidized rates. For the establishment of pesticide plant provision of 50 percent investment subsidy has been made.
13 research centers and eight science centers have been made functional to provide advanced and latest information on agriculture and horticulture to farmers. The government has taken new imitative by connecting the farmers of their periphery with all the science centers with WhatsApp. This has lead to the quick solution to the farmers, while they are also receiving information related to seasonal crops. To redress the grievances of farmers on priority basis, agriculture departments tall free helpline number ‘1550’ has been made functional.