Rajasthan Agriculture: New Development & Initiatives

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

Considered a dry desert state, Rajasthan is actually, a leading producer of oilseeds and food grain. It is the largest producer of moth beans and third largest producer of pulses and wheat. Additionally, Rajasthan is the second largest producer of milk in the country. Rajasthan Government aims to double farmers’ income by 2022 and has taken various initiatives to transform the state’s agricultural landscape of state by increasing efficiency, reducing costs and ensuring sustainability. Few of the recent initiatives and development include:

 

Crop Diversification

The Government has been instrumental in exploring different crops that can grow in climatic conditions of Rajasthan but have higher demand and potential to improve farmers income. These include:

  • Dragon fruit farming in Rajasthan (Details: here)
  • Date palm farming in Rajasthan (Details: here)
  • Custard Apple – New variety (Details: here)
  • Olive cultivation (Details: here)
  • Quinoa, a pseudo cereal, which sells for a premium in the international market, is being promoted in Rajasthan. Similarly, state government is encouraging farmers to grow strawberries near Bassi in Jaipur, alongside promoting protected cultivation of capsicum and cherry tomatoes.
  • Also, farmers have taken up cultivation of exotic flowers like gladiolus, lilium, gerbera, rose and carnations in open fields as well as in the shade. Stevia, a natural alternative to sugar, is now grown in the state.

 

Policy Initiatives:

  • Rajasthan state government has delisted fruits and vegetables from Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees, allowing farmers to sell it to any interested party.
  • In November 2015, the government launched the “Agri-Processing and Agri-Marketing Promotion Policy 2015” – to promote agro-processing and supply chain management.
  • Commodity-specific markets have been notified – Ramganjmandi for Coriander; Jodhpur & Merta for cumin.
  • Two Agri Export Zones have been operationalized  in the state, covering 5 districts each with focus on  spices, coriander and cumin.
  • Union Ministry of  Food Processing Industries (MOFPI)  has awarded approval to 2 Mega Food Parks in Rajasthan.
  • Union Government launched an electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM) to create online mandis. By 30 September, around 200 mandis have been connected online out of which 11  are from Rajasthan. These are Ramganj Mandi, Padampur, Fatehnagar, Gangapur City, Bundi, Baran, Kota Anaj, Atru, Merta, Nagaur and Hindaun. The State Agriculture Department is targeting to add 15 more mandis to eNAM.
  • Under the ‘Scheme for Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure’ by MOFPI, four cold chain projects have been approved. Out of the four projects, the one at Alwar has already been completed and started commercial operations.
  • Contract Farming: The Rajasthan state government has amended the Rajasthan Agricultural Produce Markets (Third Amendment) Act 2005,  to enable Contract Farming.
  • Single window clearance system: A single point interface is in place for online submission & tracking of investment applications and time-bound clearances.
  • In GRAM 2016, Rajasthan government has signed 38 MoUs, worth RS 4400 Crores, for investment in agriculture and allied sectors.

 

Technology Initiatives:

  • Use of technology innovations such as digital soil mapping, use of drones for effective input management, employing innovative protected cultivation methods, zero budget natural farming or technology enabled traceability systems.
  • Over 20,000 Solar Power Pumps have already been installed in the state to power irrigation systems.

 

Other Initiatives:

  • Agri-tourism 
    • Detailed article: here
  • Protected Cultivation:
    • It includes cultivation in green-houses & shade net houses.
    • Given the dry weather conditions and stable climatic durations, Rajasthan has huge opportunity for protected cultivation.
    • The focus districts are Jaipur, Alwar, Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Kota, Sawai Madhopur, Sriganganagar and Bikaner.
    • Cucumber, tomatoes, capsicum, cherry tomatoes and strawberries are majorly produced in protected cultivation.
    • Gerbera and Dutch Rose are the commonly grown flower varieties.
  • Plasticulture:
    • Plasticulture refers to the practice of using plastic materials in agricultural applications.
    • Some of the major Plasticulture applications are: Drip Irrigation Systems, Sprinkle Irrigation Systems and poly houses.
    • Benefits of Plasticulture are: yield improvement up to 50-60%, water savings up to 60-70%, prevention of weed growth, fertilizer savings up to 30-40%.
  • Organic Farming
    • The state government provides subsidy to drive growth in organic farming.
    • Dungarpur is being developed as an ‘organic district’.
  • Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet 2016 (GRAM 2016)gram
    • GRAM was organized in October 2016 as a platform to improve the sustainability and economic viability of agriculture and allied activities and bring in globalized, market-driven and profitable ventures to Rajasthan.
  • Farm-Mechanization:
    • Rajasthan Government is planning to open over 2,600 hiring centers at the panchayat samiti level in the next three years to enable the state’s farmers to rent farming equipment.

*To be used in answers related to agriculture – current state, improvement, government initiatives etc.