The government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on June 8 signed a $130-million loan agreement to increase agricultural productivity, improve access to irrigation and promote horticulture agribusinesses to raise farmers’ income in Himachal Pradesh.
The signatories to the Himachal Pradesh Subtropical Horticulture, Irrigation, and Value Addition Project were Rajat Kumar Mishra, additional secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, for the government, and Takeo Konishi, country director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, for ADB.
Mishra said that improving subtropical horticulture in the southern areas of Himachal Pradesh will help in crop diversification, climate adaptation, and equal economic and social development across the rural areas in the state.
He added that supporting horticulture value chains will boost the subsector’s contribution to food security in the country.
"The project builds upon a pilot financed by ADB’s project readiness facility which demonstrated the subtropical horticulture production over 200 hectares and prepared the Draft Water User Association (WUA) Act and the draft state horticulture development strategy,” said Konishi.
The project will help increase the income of at least 15,000 farm households across seven districts of the state namely Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi, Sirmour, Solan, and Una. These households have stopped farming or have reduced their farming areas because of lack of irrigation facilities and crop damage by animals.
The project will include new irrigation schemes that will improve on-farm irrigation and water management in 6,000 hectares of farmland. It will also help farmers to enhance their access to markets of subtropical horticulture. The farmers will be organised into cluster-wide community horticulture production and marketing associations (CHPMAs) and district-wide CHPMA cooperative societies.
The CHPMA apex institution, a farmer-producer company (FPC), will lead state-wide agribusiness development to ensure profitability and access to markets of subtropical horticulture.
The FPC will handle business plan development, and agribusiness promotion, and it will assist CHPMAs in managing these facilities.
The project will modernise public and private subtropical horticulture nursery facilities for improved plant health, and boost digital agri-technology systems for real-time farm advisories.