The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $130 million loan agreement to support initiatives aimed at increasing agricultural productivity, improving irrigation access, and promoting horticulture agribusinesses in Himachal Pradesh. The project aims to enhance farmers’ income and resilience to climate change in seven districts of the state.
Improving Farmers’ Livelihoods:
The project interventions seek to benefit approximately 15,000 farm households across the districts of Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi, Sirmour, Solan, and Una. Many of these households have either stopped farming or reduced their farming areas due to a lack of irrigation facilities and crop damage caused by wild and stray animals.
Enhancing Irrigation Infrastructure:
One of the key focuses of the project is to improve on-farm irrigation and water management in around 6,000 hectares of farmland. This will be achieved through the rehabilitation or construction of new irrigation schemes. The project will also strengthen the capacity of Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) for micro-irrigation management. The initiative will be a joint effort between the state’s Jal Shakti Vibhag (Water Resources Department) and the Department of Horticulture (DOH).
Promoting Horticulture Agribusinesses:
In addition to irrigation improvements, the project aims to create an ecosystem that enhances farmers’ access to subtropical horticulture markets. The farmers will be organized into cluster-wide Community Horticulture Production and Marketing Associations (CHPMAs) and district-wide CHPMA cooperative societies. This approach will facilitate collective marketing and value addition activities, benefiting farmers by providing better market linkages and improved bargaining power.
Increasing Resilience to Climate Change:
The project recognizes the challenges posed by climate change and seeks to enhance farmers’ resilience. By improving irrigation facilities and promoting climate-resilient agricultural practices, the project aims to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture. This will enable farmers to continue farming and increase their incomes sustainably.