Maharashtra IS poised to achieve positive growth rate in agriculture for the first time after many years of negative growth, said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday. “Due to sustained efforts of the government on many fronts and despite two successive years of droughts, the state is most likely to achieve positive growth rate anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent after suffering negative growth rate minus 16 per cent over the last few years,” said Fadnavis, while speaking as the chief guest at the annual Agrovision farm expo organised by Union Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Fadnavis made a few announcements of some forthcoming schemes, which included a Rs 5,000-crore World Bank-aided “integrated agriculture development program” in 5,000 villages. “The project will address all aspects of agriculture in an integrated way,” said Fadnavis.
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He also announced that the separate agriculture feeder line of electricity will be integrated with 10,000 solar pumps distributed across the state. “This will be done as part of the obligation to meet the target of non-conventional energy,” said Fadnavis.
Fadnavis responded positively to a suggestion made by Gadkari earlier in his speech to give interest subvention to farmers to procure drip irrigation system through bank loans. “It is a very good suggestion and we have already embarked upon it in case of sugarcane through a tripartite agreement among state government, sugar factories and sugarcane farmers to bring entire sugarcane farming in the state under drip irrigation,” he said.
The Chief Minister said, “We have distributed 94,303 pumps to Vidarbha farmers and 69,792 pumps to Marathwada farmers in the last one-and-half year. The pump number in Vidarbha is thrice that of those distributed in Western Maharashtra.”
Fadnavis extolled the virtues of the Jalyukta Shivar scheme saying that it has helped the crops this year during a month-long dry spell that stressed the crops despite the state receiving average rainfall.
He said 11 textile units were brought by the state government to Amravati’s Nandgaopeth industrial area to help Vidarbha’s cotton farmers and to realise the “cotton-cloth-fashion” dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We will soon also bring an apparel park to achieve the last leg of the journey, fashion. More such textile parks are coming up at Wardha, Yavatmal, Buldana, Jamner (Jalgaon) and Majalgaon (Marathwada),” he said.
Earlier, Gadkari praised the Jalyukta Shivar scheme saying, “It has helped lakhs of farmers.” He announced that Agrovision will set up a permanent office at Nagpur to help farmers in adopting better agricultural practices and to provide round-the-year guidance on all aspects of farming.