Monday, May 25, 2020

Regional

Grassroots heroes make effort for Himachal’s rural revolution

May 01, 2020 02:21 PM

CHANDIGARH: Contemporary Himachal is not all about Virbhadra Singh and Jai Ram Thakur in the recent times, the resurgent state has thrown up many unlikely heroes who have emerged as role models. The State resurgence begins at the grassroots level. Over exodus of youth in search of livelihood left to the minuscule minority of do-gooders to stay back and contribute their mite towards a silent revolution for change.

Leading the pack are doughty farmers who have used the government incentive mixed with their own will to make the best use of farming that flooding markets with off-season vegetables and flowers. Making it a new agriculture entrepreneurship for unemployed youth and rural masses in the State.      

It is proved that from vegetables cultivation income earning ranges from Rs 50, 000 to Rs 3.50 lakh annually. At time when farm distress is of paramount importance in socio-economic narrative, farming can still be a lucrative vocation in the State. Large number of (over 8000) poly houses have been constructed with 223.2 hectare of area under protected cultivation.  
                
cultivation have either sold these off or closed down. Rajinder pointed towards three poly houses that were lying idle only two poly houses are in working condition but he was also thinking to close down these as he finds it hard to market the produce.

He revealed that in the local market cauliflower did not fetch more than Rs 10 a kg. He has no source at his disposal to transport his produce to big markets. Though the state government provided subsidy yet all other formalities have to be taken care by the poly house owner, said he. As his village is located at a remote area, there is no market to sell the products. Another farmer poly house damaged in a storm and he did not have the money to re-set up the poly house. Hence, he closed down the operation.     

 Most of the farmers of the area complained that the main reason of reverse trend in poly house revolution was absence of proper marketing of their produce. Kashmir Singh another farmer said that to maintain temperature for particular crop one would need blower inside the poly house that would be an extra burden on farmer’s pocket.

Farmers especially in Kangra, Hamirpur and Bilaspur districts do not have any access to proper markets. Even local markets preferred to purchase vegetables from Una and Hoshiarpur.

Their journeys have not been easy and still continue to be roller coaster rides. Both the agriculture and horticulture departments provide 85 per cent subsidy for installation of polyhouses through the companies that they have empanelled. Poly houses ranging from 250 square metres to 1, 000 square metres. The structure comprises galvanised iron pipes and ultraviolet stabilising sheets along with drip irrigation mechanism, foggers, safety nets etc. The cost begins from around Rs 3 lakh.

Himachal is producing around 17 lakh metric tonne vegetables and almost 40 per cent are off-season vegetables. The production exceeds that of cereals and fruits. Yet there are problems pertaining to post harvest technology. Farmers and the activists point out that it is the vegetable production, mainly the off season one, that has helped farmers ward off a distress situation that prevails in other states like Punjab and Maharashtra. But the official of the agriculture department, says that in the last decades, the off-season vegetable production has gone up 2-3 times and that a project in coordination with Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA) would be executed in all districts with outlay of Rs 1100 crore.

It is because of these agrarian heroes living in the backwaters of Himachal that the state can hope or another revolution. They may not be the familiar faces as yet but they are the ones who are working silently to make the most of State’s agricultural potential. The farmers now sit at a point where economic and scientific interventions have become the need of the hour. At this precarious position, the farmer is once again looking at the government to take his journey to a happy conclusion. They want the government to be more responsive towards grassroots heroes.

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