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‘Climate Smart Village’ Initiative: Madhya Pradesh is all set to make its Villages smarter!

 The project will incur a cost of Rs. 150 crore every year and will include 100 villages in each of the 11 agro-climatic zones of the state

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Madhya Pradesh's initiative of smarter villages
Agricultural farms in India (Representational Image), pixabay
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Bhopal, December 30, 2016: Madhya Pradesh is all set to make its villages smarter. This has prompted them to set an ambitious plan to develop 1,100 ‘climate smart villages’ with an aim to prepare the farmers combat the climate change risks and ensure better productivity.

“The government has been planning to develop 1,100 villages as climate-smart villages in a period of next six years,” said Dr. Rajesh Rajora, who is state Farmer Welfare and Agriculture Development Department Principal Secretary, mentioned PTI report.

The project will incur a cost of Rs. 150 crore every year and will include 100 villages in each of the 11 agro-climatic zones of the state, said Dr. Rajora. He also said that “ The work is being taken up under the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) and Indian National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture.”

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In addition to using drought-resistance seeds, the farmers will also be encouraged to go for short duration variety of crops.

“The focus would be on integrated agriculture, which comprises animal husbandry, fisheries, in addition to traditional farming. Agro-forestry would also be adopted in these villages,” Rajora said. It conserves and protects the natural resources as it helps water retention and stops soil erosion.

He mentioned that integrated nutrients management would also be implemented to help in soil fertility and plant nutrients supply through optimization of all possible sources of organic, inorganic and biological components.

Rajora said, “In addition, the integrated pest management, zero tillage, raised bed gardening techniques and micro-irrigation would also be introduced in the climate smart villages. This would help farmers to increase the productivity amid all challenges of climate change,”.

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The technique of growing crops, time and again, without disturbing the soil through ploughing is known as zero tillage method, another agricultural expert said. He said “The micro-irrigation systems like drip and sprinklers would not only reduce the water use but also lessen the use of fertilizers and energy.”

International Crop Research Institute for Semi  Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will help the state government in this initiative, said Rajora. Along with this an international NGO working in the field of agriculture and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global agriculture research partnership will also take an active part in this program.

While mentioning the partner organization Rajora said “ The Centre has set ICISAT, the UN organization, as nodal agency for developing the climate-smart villages. We would also seek expertise from scientists of two agriculture universities at Jabalpur and Gwalior in addition to state government’s scientists in various district headquarters,” mentioned PTI.

According to agriculture department officials, various equipment and sensors would also be used in these villages to help the farmers.

Block level soil testing laboratory will soon be opened as said by the state government. A plan is also on the anvil to provide soil health cards to farmers under state government’s efforts to double farmer’s income in five years. ‘Krishi Cabinet’ has been constituted to ensure sustainable agricultural growth. The cabinet comprises of ministers of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, cooperatives, water resources, Narmada valley development, energy, panchayat, rural development and SC/ST welfare departments.

MP had also received Krishi Karman award for 2014-15, the fourth during past five years, for increasing the food grains production and productivity by 254 lakh tonnes and 1,719 kg per hectare, respectively. Government has also claimed to have increased the irrigated agriculture area to 40 lakh hectares from 7 lakh hectares in 2003.

prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon

 

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India’s Farmer Protests Highlight Increasing Rural Distress

Political analysts also said the growing rural anger could erode support for Prime Minister Modi in the countryside ahead of next year's scheduled elections.

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Indian what reaches Afghanistan via Chabahar Port
FILE - Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad. VOA

Vimla Yadav, a farmer from India’s Haryana state, says agriculture costs, such as fertilizers and seeds, have soared, yet produce prices have plunged, leaving her family of 10 with virtually no profit from their four-acre farm. “We don’t even get the fruits of the labor that the entire family puts in on the farm, although we slog day and night,” she laments.

Yadav is one of the tens of thousands of angry farmers from around the country who poured into the Indian capital recently, demanding a special session of parliament to discuss their demands: better prices for farm produce and a waiver by the government from repaying loans taken from banks.

The protest highlighted the deepening distress among the population in the countryside, where there is growing concern about diminishing agricultural profits because many are being driven into debt.

In a country where half the population of 1.3 billion depends on agriculture, low farm profits have long been a challenge and prompted promises by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to double rural incomes by 2022. But the growing disenchantment among the farming community could pose a challenge to Modi as he seeks re-election next year.

farmers
Police try to stop farmers during a protest demanding a better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

According to the government, the average income of a farmer is about $100 a month. But many make less, said Yogendra Yadav, one of the main leaders of the protest and founder of the farmers group Jai Kisan Andolan. The Yadavs are not related.

“For a majority of them, the income is probably less than $50 a month. That is the level at which they survive. And one of the principal reasons for that is that they don’t get enough price for their crops,” Yogendra Yadav said.

Low prices for crops are not the only problem: increasingly erratic weather patterns pose a new challenge in a country where nearly half the farmers lack access to irrigation.

In eastern Orissa state, for example, back-to-back droughts over the past two years have brought widespread distress.

“There has been very little rain this year,” said Lakhyapati Sahu, a farmer who traveled from Orissa, one of India’s poorer states. “We face a massive problem due to successive droughts.”

According to various studies, nearly half of Indian farmers have said they want to quit working on the land but cannot do so because of a lack of alternate livelihoods.

Farmer protests, farmer
Police use water cannons to disperse farmers during a protest demanding better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

Despite the challenge of finding work, Parul Haldar, a farmer from West Bengal, said she wants to migrate with her entire family to the city. “I will give up farming and go to Kolkata and look for work to make a living. There is no money to be earned from the farm,” she added.

Although the rural crisis has been festering for many years, economists partly blame the deepening crisis on a sweeping currency ban that led to widespread cash shortages two years ago and affected their incomes.

“Many farmers lost working capital, they had to borrow money from the banks or from the local moneylenders at high interest rates, so their costs went up,” economist Arun Kumar said. “So if costs go up and revenue comes down, then income gets squeezed.”

Protests by farmers have intensified in the past two years as they try to draw attention to the usually forgotten countryside — their recent march was their fourth and largest to Delhi so far this year. They have also held marches in other cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. In June, farmers in several parts of the country threw their produce on the streets to highlight low prices. And last year, farmers from southern India protested in New Delhi with skulls to draw attention to suicides by farmers.

Farmer
The Farmer Portal provides all the relevant information and services to the farming community and private sector. Wikimedia Commons

“Farmers are saying enough is enough, now something needs to be done,” Yogendra Yadav said. “Both the economic and ecological crisis is leading to an existential crisis, farmers are committing suicide, they are quitting farming.”

Also Read: Millions Of Urban Children in Worse Condition Than Rural People: UNICEF

Political analysts also said the growing rural anger could erode support for Prime Minister Modi in the countryside ahead of next year’s scheduled elections. Farmers make up an important voting bloc.

“Opposition to Modi is growing. Unless you have rural support, no party can win on [the] basis of urban support only,” said Satish Misra, of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “The distress is real. The agriculture issue needs to be addressed in a very focused manner.” (VOA)