Staff Correspondent

70 per cent of the Himachal population is involved in agriculture

SHIMLA: The Japanese Government has agreed in principle to allocate at least Rs.500 crore for enhancement of agricultural productivity in the hill State of Himachal Pradesh.

According to State Agriculture Secretary P. C. Kapoor, the department has paid Rs.10 crore to some Japanese consultants to make a project report on ways to increase productivity in a region where more than 86 per cent of the farmers are small and marginal with very little farm holdings.

Mr. Kapoor and Director of Agriculture J. C. Rana said the Government is laying extra emphasis on increasing farm incomes through crop diversification, poly house productions, drip irrigation systems, providing soil health cards to farmers, promoting organic farming and introducing crop insurance and weather insurance schemes. A total of Rs.154.90 crore has been sanctioned for making poly houses in the State and a project for micro irrigation worth Rs.146 crore covering 20,000 hectares is to be sanctioned by NABARD, they said. Just 20 per cent of the agricultural area is under irrigation and the rest under rain-fed farming.

Although 70 per cent of the population is involved in agriculture and allied activities in the State, it contributes only 20 per cent to the State’s Gross Domestic Product.