India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have joined forces in a significant partnership to support agricultural development in Himachal Pradesh. The collaboration involves a $130 million loan agreement aimed at increasing agricultural productivity, improving irrigation access, and promoting horticulture agribusinesses in the state. The project’s primary objectives are to enhance farmers’ income and strengthen their resilience to climate change in seven districts of Himachal Pradesh.
With a focus on improving farmers’ livelihoods, the initiative aims to benefit around 15,000 farm households in Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi, Sirmour, Solan, and Una districts. Many of these households have faced challenges such as limited irrigation facilities and crop damage caused by wild and stray animals, leading some to abandon farming altogether.
To address these issues, the project places a significant emphasis on enhancing irrigation infrastructure. Approximately 6,000 hectares of farmland will benefit from improved on-farm irrigation and water management. This will involve rehabilitating existing irrigation systems and constructing new ones. The project will also work on strengthening the capacity of Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) to effectively manage micro-irrigation. Collaborations between the state’s Jal Shakti Vibhag (Water Resources Department) and the Department of Horticulture (DOH) will drive these efforts.
In addition to irrigation improvements, the project aims to create an ecosystem that promotes horticulture agribusinesses. It seeks to establish Community Horticulture Production and Marketing Associations (CHPMAs) at the cluster level and district-wide CHPMA cooperative societies. These associations will facilitate collective marketing and value addition activities, empowering farmers with better market access and improved bargaining power.
Recognizing the challenges posed by climate change, the project also focuses on enhancing farmers’ resilience. By improving irrigation facilities and promoting climate-resilient agricultural practices, the project aims to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture. This approach will enable farmers to sustain their farming activities and increase their incomes in a sustainable manner.
The partnership between the Government of India and the ADB signifies a significant step forward in supporting agricultural development and uplifting farmers’ livelihoods in Himachal Pradesh. Through their combined efforts, the project aims to drive positive change, empower farmers, and create a more resilient agricultural sector in the state.
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