The state government is working towards holistic development of all the eight districts of backward Marathwada to create infrastructure for growth of agriculture and industries. “To begin with, the region’s foremost challenge is to tackle drought. All the eight districts have faced drought in the last two years,” said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Saturday during his visit to Aurangabad.
The flagship Jalyukta Shivar project, undertaken aggressively in Marathwada, has helped provide some relief to the farmers.
While announcing that the second phase of Jalyukta Shivar would be pushed on a war-footing in the eight districts, Fadnavis said, “Apart from agriculture, there is huge potential for industrial growth in the districts that will open up greater employment opportunities.”
Marathwada comprises the eight districts of Aurangabad, Beed, Nanded, Latur, Osmanabad, Parbhani and Hingoli. Among the worst drought-hit districts were Latur, Osmanabad, Beed and Parbhani.
The region, which has lagged behind in industrial development, is being given special concessions and opened up to sectors that can generate employment. The region, which has sizeable cotton cultivation, is being provided with textile-related industrial units.
While initiating measures for tackling drought, the government has already banned new sugar mills in the region. Farm experts are being roped in to guide farmers look for alternative crop patterns with less investments and higher returns.
This year, the government has promoted “tur” cultivation, which has huge demand across the country and outside. Inter-cropping and horticulture too are being pushed to help farmers. In addition, the government has taken up dairy development in Marathwada, which can be an alternative source of livelihood especially when crop fails due to poor rains.
The government believes water conservation projects in the next two years would help build infrastructure that could make agriculture more lucrative. Farm ponds and wells can serve as water storage facilities and help farmers cultivate at least one crop in hard times.