Uttarakhand to get India’s first integrated cooperative development project
To check forced migration from the hills of Uttarakhand the state government will soon launch the country’s first Integrated Co-operative Development Project (ICDP). The scheme aims to drastically improve the rural economy by giving a boost to the co-operative, farm and allied sectors, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat announced on Thursday.
“We will be the first state in the country to launch the project (ICDP), for which the technical and financial support will be provided by a key central government agency,” Rawat said referring to the National Cooperative Development Cooperation (NCDC). “The project worth ~3,632 crore aims to strengthen the rural economy by giving a boost to the cooperative, farm and allied sectors that will help us check forced migration from the hills,” he said.
Announcing the scheme at a joint press conference with cooperatives and animal husbandry secretary R Meenakshi Sundaram, the chief minister said about 50,000 small and marginal farmers would be directly benefited by the scheme. “It will also help generate five lakh man days of employment, besides creating additional employment through commercial activities like marketing of agricultural produce and dairy products,” he said.
Stating that ICDP would be replicated across the country, Rawat said it would be instrumental in implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022.
“The project (ICDP) will help facilitate a uniform economic gr- owth in the state by bringing the farm sector at par with the manufacturing sector,” he clarified.
Giving details of its various components, Rawat said ICDP would benefit all small and marginal farmers as it would help boost all aspects of the agriculture sector, including horticulture, aromatic plants and cold water fisheries. “It will also give boost to sectors such as the animal husbandry, dairy, besides giving a boost to the economy of farmers engaged in the rearing of sheep and goats,” Rawat said. A project of this dimension, he clarified, would also give a boost to the potential trade relating to fibres generated from the industrial hemp (with hardly any narcotic component) and the nettle grass endemic to the hill state.
“Such fibre crops are in great demand in Singapore as I discovered during my recent visit to that country where I attended investors’ meet recently,” Rawat said adding that local farmers could export those natural fibres after marketing linkages would be developed as the work on the project would progress.
Admitting that marketing of agricultural produce and dairy products is a huge problem due to low farm yield, he said: “As a result, there are hardly any buyers available for farm produce despite my efforts to set up a marketing network in rural areas.” In his earlier tenure, Rawat was the agriculture minister.
There would be enough buyers once farm production gets a boost after the introduction of cooperative-based farming. “The project (ICDP) will also pave the way for the entry of the corporate companies which would buy agriculture produce from farmers from their farms at good rates.”
Co-operatives and animal husbandry secretary Sundaram said 80% of the financial assistance the state would receive from the Centre for the project would be in the form of loan and the rest would be grant. “The loan to farmers wo- uld be interest free,” he said. The funds under ICDP would be used to strengthen the three-tier cooperative societies to give boost to marketing linkages at all levels.
Sunadram said complete transparency would be maintained in releasing loan amounts to farmers. “The amount will be released to their bank accounts by the project directorate which would be set up soon,” he clarified. “Similarly,” Sundaram said, “all village-specific projects sanctioned under ICDP would be scrutinised by the directorate and a high powered committee headed by the chief secretary.”