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Government of Maharashtra to Focus on Smart Agriculture

To improve lives of farmers is likely to get greater impetus in the forthcoming state budget, climate resilient agricultural practices coupled with greater thrust on promoting investments in food processing sector. “Agriculture sector will remain the highest concern of the state budget this year too,” said sources. The focus in 2017-18 would be on sustainable agriculture.

The unpredictable rains after the sowing of crops remains a concern. “Now the biggest challenge confronting the farmers is to cope with climatic changes. The kharif and rabi cycles have drastically altered with onset of early summers and delayed winters, ” said sources.

The long gap between the rains in some regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha which impacted overall production and quality of crops, while acknowledging that good monsoons resulted in 100 per cent sowing. The state government allocated Rs 25,000 crore for agriculture in 2016-17 and the flagship jalyukta shivar projects saw investments upto Rs 1,600 crore for drought mitigation the second phase in 5,000 villages.

The state has 40,000 villages, out of the total 25,000 villages, the state government has succeeded in tackling drought in 11,500 villages which were drought hit. While the jalyukta shivar works will graduate into the third phase in the remaining 13,500 villages, real concerns relate to augmenting infrastructure to overcome the erratic climatic changes.

The Maharashtra government and WB have agreed to work on a Rs 4000 crore project under climate resilient agriculture practices to tackle the challenges in the agriculture sector due to climate changes. Better management of land use, water management, doubling the production, providing soil moisture security among others are the features of these projects.

To tap more resources for food processing sector across Maharashtra, the state government is also exploring ways. The investments in the sector has been moderate, despite 100 per cent FDI.

To discuss greater partnership in skill development and food processing sector, Fadnavis held a meeting with Pepsico chairperson Ms Indira Nooyi. It has agreed to help improve livelihood of farmers, by investing Rs 180 crore in citrus processing facility in Nanded.