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Agriculture provides direct employment to 71% of the population in Himachal Pradesh and the sector contributes nearly 30% of the total state domestic product. The new sown area of Himachal Pradesh is 5,38,412 hectare and the total cropped area is 9,40,597 hectare. The total irrigated area is 70 lakh hectares. The agro-climatic zones of Himachal Pradesh are:
Himachal Pradesh practices Natural Farming under the Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kissan (PK3) Yojana. The scheme aims to reduce the cost of cultivation and enhance farmers’ income. The scheme was announced by the Chief Minister in the Budget speech of 2018–19.
The scheme seeks to promote the production of food grains, vegetables, and fruits without the use of synthetic chemicals/pesticides and fertilizers.
The scheme went beyond its target of covering 500 farmers to 2669 in 2018–19. By 2019–20, 54,914 farmers were practicing Natural Farming on 2,451 hectares of land. The scheme has now targeted to bring more farmers under its ambit and cover 20,000 hectares.
A survey done in the first year of the implementation of the scheme found that Natural Farming lowered the cost of cultivation by 46% and increased profit by 22%. Another survey was conducted on the impact of this practice on the incidence of diseases in apples. The results were encouraging. Scab incidences in Natural Farming orchards were found to be 9.2% on leaves and 2.1% on fruit—in chemical farming, such incidences are found on 14.2% of the leaves and 9.2% of fruits. The incidences of marssonina were also found to be only 12.2% in Natural Farming orchards as compared to 18.4% in the chemical ones.
The Himachal Pradesh government hopes to bring 9.61 lakh farmer families under the ambit of this Yojana by the end of 2022.
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