With the share of agriculture in the state GDP declining, the task force for agricultural development set up by the Himachal government has drawn up a comprehensive plan to revitalize the sector. The body, which was set up in May on the suggestion of NITI Aayog and comprises officials from the agriculture, horticulture, irrigation and animal husbandry departments besides universities as members, also formulated strategies to reform the sector and suggested diversion of agricultural land for non-farming purposes, should be prevented.
The task force, which also deliberated on the issue of speeding up development in the agriculture and allied sector, has made several recommendations aimed at invigorating the sector including diversification from food to commercial crops besides protection of crops from wild animals and stray cattle. "In Himachal several things have been done to save the agriculture sector but, due to various reasons, we are losing ground," said one of the body's members, adding several issues had to be dealt in.
For agricultural research the task force suggested strengthening of ongoing varietal development programmes with special emphasis on biotic stress tolerance and use of biotechnological interventions in breeding programmes.
Additional chief secretary (agriculture) Upma Chaudhary, who heads the task force, said its recommendations would be forwarded to the central government for compilation of a national document by NITI Aayog. "We have discussed every issue in detail," she said.
The task force has also made recommendations on horticulture, horticulture research, animal husbandry and related research, fisheries and irrigation. It suggested there was need to use the full irrigation potential created. For fisheries it proposed modernization and upgrade of fish landing centres to maintain the quality of reservoir fish.
Agriculture's role in economy declining
Agriculture, whose share in Gross State Development Product (GSDP), though on a decline over years, is still a significant contributor to Himachal's economy. Along with allied sectors its share in GSDP was 57.9 % in fiscal 1950-55. In 2013-14 agriculture's share in GDSP was 14.25%. Foodgrain production, which was recorded at 15.41 lakh million tonnes in 2012-13, has on the other hand increased to 15.76 lakh million tonnes in 2013-14 and is expected to rise to 16.2 lakh million tonnes in 2014-15.
Promotion of organic farming
Insurance of crops against natural calamity
Stop diversion of agricultural land for non-agri purposes
Development of area specific technologies
To utilize the irrigation potential created
Strengthening of developmental fish farms
Strengthening post harvesting technologies in horticulture
Promoting use of honey bees (Apis mellifera)