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Himachal all set to witness green revolution


Shimla : The hills of Himachal Pradesh are all set to witness another green revolution with a Rs.267-crore project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for promotion of agriculture, an official said Sunday.

“The project aims to motivate the farmers to opt for crop diversification, organic farming and help improve farming facilities, especially irrigation. It will enable the farmers to switch over from wheat, rice and maize to off-season vegetable cultivation and other high-value cash crops,” Agriculture Director J.S. Rana told IANS.

“For this, the state government has also signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with the Japanese government for carrying out a study to enhance farm income through diversified agriculture on the basis of which a master plan for the next 15 years is being prepared. The crop diversification project is likely to be cleared by March (this year),” he said.

He said the project would be initially started from Hamirpur district and would be extended to other districts during its five-year term.

“The project aims to increase the area under vegetable cultivation to 65,000 hectares from 55,000 hectares. This would increase the vegetable production to 13 lakh tonnes from 9 lakh tonnes,” Rana said.

It also targets diversification of 30,000 hectares of land from traditional crops to off-season vegetables over the next five years, he said.

“Of course, the project would target better management of water sources, improving irrigation facilities, constructing farm access road and strengthening the marketing infrastructure with organic farming, vegetable and herbal growing within the thrust areas,” the official added.

At present, about 81 percent of the total cultivated area in the state is rain-fed.

With about 70 percent people directly dependent on it, agriculture remains the mainstay of the state’s economy accounting for 20 percent of the state’s domestic product along with allied sectors.

Himachal Pradesh annually earns more than Rs.25 billion (Rs.2,500 crore) from the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. The crop diversification project will add to the prosperity of the growers.