Uttarakhand may lease out empty land to foreign investors to boost farm production
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Uttarakhand may lease out empty land to foreign investors to boost farm production

Plans are on to lease out abandoned land in Uttarakhand to foreign investors to grow crops, which would boost hill farmers’ income and check forced migration.

dehradun Updated: Sep 15, 2018 00:52 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand,lease,foreign investor
Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is on record saying that plans were afoot to “lease out the agricultural land in the hills lying fallow and abandoned as their owners have migrated”.(PTI/File Photo)

The Uttarakhand government may soon take the help of foreign investors to boost the declining farm sector. Plans are on to lease out abandoned land to foreign investors to grow crops, which would boost the hill farmers’ income and help check their forced migration.

“We have invited foreign investors to take up contract farming in the hills so that farm production gets a boost. They might also provide us technical know-how which we will give a fillip to the agro- based industry,” said agriculture minister Subodh Uniyal who recently returned from a week-long trip to Denmark and Spain.

State horticulture director RC Srivastava said the hill agriculture would get a boost if farm land is leased out to foreign investors. “Such a move, if fructuous, would certainly give a boost to the farm sector, which will help us check forced migration from the hills,” he said. The official clarified that there was no legal anomaly in implementing such a scheme.

“I don’t see any problem on technical ground because all our laws relating to contract farming and lease related laws are in place,” Srivastava said.

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is on record saying that plans were afoot to “lease out the agricultural land in the hills lying fallow and abandoned as their owners have migrated”.

As per a report by Rural Development and Migration Commission, about 734 revenue villages, including clusters of villages, have been emptied out about eight years after the 2011 census was completed. Similarly, as many as 1,18, 981 people have permanently relocated from 3,946 village panchayats in the past 10 years.

Recently, the government tweaked its agriculture policy to make hill farming more remunerative to check forced migration. Its move to invite foreign investors to take up contract farming in the hills is aimed to achieve that objective only.

Uniyal said during his recent visit to Denmark, he extended “an open” invitation to investors there to take up contract farming in the state or acquire farmland on lease. “I also invited them to visit the state to attend a two-day Investors’ Summit to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 7,” he said. “We plan to rope in investors from Denmark because it is known for its integrated agriculture, hi-tech dairy farming and agro-based industry.”

About his visit to Pamplona, Spain, he said it was a brief study tour to understand hi-tech agro-based industry in that country. “The technology being employed by people there particularly in that sector is very advanced,” Uniyal said. “We are planning to acquire the hi-tech system from Spain to replicate its efficient agro-based industry,” he clarified. As a first step, the government would ensure that investors from Denmark take up contract farming in the mountain state or are leased out abandoned farmlands, he added.

“That is our first priority because their hi-tech farming techniques would boost farm production in the hills, which is very low,” Uniyal added. If the plan takes off, foreign investors would be leased out land to grow millets, medicinal herbs and the off-season vegetables.

“We want them to boost production of those crops because they are our strengths as the state’s agro-climatic conditions are suitable for them,” he said and added that there “is a growing demand for crops such as medicinal herbs and more particularly millets both in the domestic and foreign markets”.

Uniyal clarified that after the production takes off, a marketing network would be put in place on the pattern of the hi-tech integrated agriculture practised in countries like Denmark. “We will also set up agro-based industries based on foreign technology,” he said.

First Published: Sep 15, 2018 00:52 IST