Project Background and Rationale 02

Himachal Pradesh is a hilly state located at the foot of the Western Himalayas, with an area of 556.7 million hectares and a population of approximately 6 million. Nearly 70% of the working population in the state is engaged in agriculture, but agriculture accounts for only 18.8% of the gross state domestic product. The low agriculture productivity partly attributes to the fact that the area available for growing crops is limited to 10% of the total land of the state, due to the hilly terrain, thus more than 80% of the farmers are marginal and small landholders with less than 2.0 ha. Also, only 20% of the cultivable area has irrigation facilities, and the rest has to depend on the rain-fed cultivation. Thus majority of the farmers in the state remain engaged in traditional cultivation of food grains, not being able to divert to more profitable commodities, such as vegetables and fruits.
In order to boost the agricultural development and enhance the farm income in the rural areas, it is therefore important to increase the productivity of the existing cultivated area, through shifting from self-subsistence crop cultivation to diversified agriculture, by adopting cash crops such as vegetables cultivation suitable in hilly and highland areas. For such accomplishment, overcoming the major constraints, such as shortage of irrigation facilities, farm roads and insufficient marketing facilities is highly essential.

Rationale of the Project Design

The Project aims at promoting crop diversification in the target area of five districts (Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi and Una) in the State of Himachal Pradesh, through development of necessary infrastructure such as irrigation facilities and farm access roads, in parallel with technical training for farmers on vegetable cultivation, food grain cultivation and post-harvesting technology. The Project will newly develop or rehabilitate existing facilities in approximately 210 irrigation schemes in the area to bring additional area of 3,712 Ha under assured irrigation, and will construct or improve 100 km of 147 access farm roads. In each of the 210 sub-project sites, technical training will be extended to farmers on themes necessary for crop diversification, such as vegetables cultivation, food grain cultivation and post-harvesting technology. Farmers Group and Self-Help Group will be formed in each sub-project, for the sake of collective activities such as hands-on training of vegetable cultivation, collection and sale of products, and operation and maintenance of irrigation facilities.