Karnataka will now experiment with a combination of hi-tech Israeli farming model and Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) as part of its effort to provide succour to the farm sector. The State Budget presented by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday focusses prominently on farm and allied sectors and has proposed to experiment with these two systems in different places of the State.
The budget has allocated Rs. 150 crore in the first stage for replicating the Israeli model of irrigation facility on 5,000 hectares of dryland in each of the parched districts of Kolar, Chitradurga, Koppal, and Gadag. Another Rs. 150 crore has been allocated for adopting a water-efficient irrigation model in the horticulture sector on 5,000 hectares each in Uttara Kannada, Tumakuru, Yadgir, and Haveri.
Meanwhile, an amount of Rs. 50 crore has been allocated for replicating the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh’s experiment with ZBNF, which is believed to have reduced the cost of cultivation and increased yield there. The United Nations Environment Programme has come forward to provide technical assistance on this.
To monitor the progress of these programmes, the budget has also proposed to constitute a high-level Agriculture Coordination Committee led by the Chief Minister. The committee, which will include Ministers holding the agriculture and allied portfolios, will meet once in three months to look into all issues, right from sowing to marketing.
In a bid to build farmer partnerships that would help in learning innovative practices from each other, a State advisory committee comprising two farmers from each district is also proposed. The committee would meet once in two months to hold consultations with the Chief Minister to find solutions to various agrarian problems. The budget has earmarked Rs. 5 crore to rope in startups to provide innovative solutions to the sector.
Also, to provide marketing avenues for minor millets, organic produce, fruits as well as vegetables, the budget has proposed to develop markets equipped with basic infrastructure by Agricultural Produce Market Committees or on public-private partnership model in 10 places on highways linking major cities.
Rs. 50 crore earmarked for trying out zero budget natural farming
Rs. 190 crore allocated to bail out coconut farmers
10 markets to be developed along major highways
State advisory committee comprising two innovative farmers from each district to be formed