Sustainable agricultural initiatives of the Indian Government

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    agricultureThis year’s insufficient Monsoon has forced people to pay more attention to agriculture and food security, but these have already been a very high priority for the Government. While the focus presently is on saving the standing crops and trying to maximize the production of winter crops, long-term strategies remain very important. These strategies have been evolved after a great deal of discussions, consultations and planning over the last five years and are aimed at giving a strong base to Indian agriculture.

    The Government of India has launched several major schemes who will have long-term impact. These schemes are bringing in more investment, giving more incentives to States to give agriculture a high priority in their budget, bridging the yield gap in major food crops, promoting use of new farming technologies, improving soil health, giving a fillip to farming activities other than foodgrain production.

    To provide benefits to the farmer community, the Ministry of Agriculture has launched the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) during the Financial Year 2007-08 to encourage the States to invest more towards agriculture and allied sectors so as to achieve 4% annual growth. This would help in increasing the production and productivity. The Ministry has envisaged an outlay of Rs.25,000/- crore for the 11th Five Year Plan.

    The scheme requires the States to prepare District and State Agriculture Plans for creation of such infrastructure, which are essential to catalyse the existing production scenario for achieving higher production.  The scheme provides adequate flexibility and autonomy to the State Governments in selection, planning and implementation of project under this new flagship scheme.  The scheme provides funds to the States as 100% grants. Some of the major activities for which the scheme is available are integrated development of food crops, agriculture mechanization, soil health and productivity, horticulture, animal husbandry, dairying & Fisheries and development of market infrastructure.

    The new initiative has elicited an enthusiastic response from the States.  Many States have prepared their District Agricultural Plan and others are in the process of preparing the same.  Funds to the tune of Rs. 4133.69 crore have been released to the States/UTsduring 2007-08 & 2008-09 under the Scheme.  The States have taken up projects relating to minor/micro irrigation, watersheds, strengthening of seed farms, horticulture, setting up of soil/seed/fertilizer testing laboratories, farm mechanization, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.  Under the scheme an amount of Rs. 4100.00 crore is expected to be released to the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations during 2009-10.

    To promote holistic growth of the horticulture sector through area based regionally differentiated strategies, the National Horticulture Mission (NHM)  was launched in the country, during the Xth Plan with effect from 2005-06. NHM ensures development of horticulture sector duly ensuring horizontal and vertical linkages, with the active participation of all the stake-holders. Under the Mission, 352 districts in all the States and two UnionTerritories (Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep) are covered  except eight NorthEastern States, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, which are covered under the Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture in the North Eastern States (TMNE).

    An amount of Rs. 3503.11 crore has been released for implementation of the Scheme since its inception till date, against the allocation of Rs. 3880.00 crore.  An outlay of Rs. 1100crore is earmarked for implementation of the scheme during 2009-10. The salient achievements under the Mission are coverage of an additional area of  12.54 lakh hactares of identified horticulture crops in 87 crop clusters, besides rejuvenation of 2.06 lakh hactares of senile plantations, establishment of 1935 nurseries for production of quality planting materials, adoption of organic farming in an area of 1.11 lakh hectares besides establishment of 66,019 units of vermi-compost units for promotion of organic farming in horticulture, adoption of IPM practices in an area of 5.73 lakh hactares besides establishment of 294 IPM/INM infrastructure facilities such as Bio-control labs, plant health clinics, leaf tissue analysis labs, disease forecasting units, creation of 13,091 community water tanks. Training of 4.24 lakhfarmers within the concerned States and 57,000 farmers outside their States through exposure visits and training for enhancing capacity building on horticulture. Assistance has also been provided for establishment of 1109 pack houses, 109 cold storages, 23 refer vans besides creation of 35 whole-sale markets, 174 rural markets, to help in proper handling and marketing of horticulture produce.

    The impact of Mission has been from the positive trend in increasing area under fruits to 4.964 million hactares with a production of 45.29 million tonnes, while the area under vegetables is 6.756 million hactares with a production of 101.43 million tonnes. India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world next to China. The horticulture sector contributes around 28.5% of agriculture.