New farm policy to double marginal farmers’ income and curb migration | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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New farm policy to double marginal farmers’ income and curb migration

The Uttarakhand government has finalised a policy to double income of small and marginal farmers in the next five years by encouraging them to adopt the best farm practices, with the overall plan of keeping a check on forced migration from hills

dehradun Updated: Oct 15, 2017 19:41 IST
Deep Joshi
The broader aim of the new holistic farm policy is to check forced migration from the hills, says an official.
The broader aim of the new holistic farm policy is to check forced migration from the hills, says an official. (HT File)

The Uttarakhand government has finalised a policy to double income of small and marginal farmers in the next five years by encouraging them to adopt the best farm practices, with the overall plan of keeping a check on forced migration from hills.

“The policy that we have formulated aims to ensure a paradigm shift in all practices relating to farm and horticulture so that income of small and marginal farmers can be doubled by 2022,” agriculture and horticulture secretary D Senthil Pandiyan told HT in an interview. “The broader aim of the new holistic farm policy is to check forced migration from the hills.”

Other than providing insurance cover against crop failures in the event of natural disasters, Pandiyan said the policy “also aims to ensure that farmers are” provided best agricultural tools, fertilisers and pesticides to augment their produce

“It’s a detailed document that provides solutions to all kinds of problems affecting the hill agriculture such as its dependence on rain besides frequent climatic changes and different soil conditions,” Pandiyan said, adding the farm policy, for instance, seeks to popularise rainwater harvesting techniques among farmers so that they could also sow crops off season.

Besides, it “seeks to provide facilities” for cluster farming, so farmers can be encouraged to grow different types of crops suitable to soil and agro-climatic conditions prevailing in different areas. “For that, we have roped in experts from agricultural universities and institutes to prepare a databank of seeds of different crops that can be grown in accordance with requirements of soil types and agro-climatic conditions.”

Similarly, soil of different areas would be tested and soil health cards provided to farmers. “A clear understanding of which crop will suit which soil and agro-climatic condition will also lead to cost reduction in farm inputs like fertilisers, equipment, seed and energy.”

All these scientific farm practices would be propagated among farmers by experts and extension workers. “Those (farm practices) will also be mentioned in detail in handbooks which are to be distributed among farmers.”

The policy would have its emphasis on integrated farm system model. “That means farmers will be provided facilities so that they get additional income from allied activities like dairy farming, poultry, fisheries bee keeping and mushroom cultivation,” Pandyan said, adding that mechanised farming equipment would be provided so that drudgery could be reduced.

Hill farmers would get facilities to take up organic farming in a big way. “As it is, organic farming is traditionally practised in the hills as local farmers seldom use chemical fertilizers,” he said, adding that post-harvesting management and marketing of farm produce would be other two key features of the farm policy.

Elaborating, the official mentioned as part of the post harvest management, farmers’ groups and federations would get facilities to set up collection centres. “These (centres) will be equipped with facilities for storage of crops as well as semi-processing facilities so that farmers can easily market their produce.”

“Similarly, collection centres will be equipped with cold storage facilities so that high-value perishable (horticultural and agricultural) crops can be preserved.”

All such facilities would enable farmers to sell their crops when their market price would be the highest. Under the new policy, farmers would be provided linkages with e-National Agricultural Market. “That means local farmers will be able to market their produce anywhere in the country, wherever it fetches them best price,” Pandiyan told HT.