In order to promote natural farming and innovative agriculture in a big way, a fund of Rs. 82.83 crore has been approved by the Government of India for 35 districts of Uttar Pradesh under the centrally funded Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati scheme, disclosed Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday.
Delivering a speech virtually in a one-day national workshop as a part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav organised by the NITI Aayog on ‘Cow-based natural farming and innovative agriculture, the chief minister said that the scheme would cover an area of around 38,670 hectares. “The scheme will be implemented for three years starting from the Kharif season this year,” he added.
Mentioning how the Bundelkhand region of the state had traditionally been practicing natural farming in different forms, the chief minister said that to promote it further, the government proposed to set up clusters of 500-1,000 hectares in all the 47 development blocks of all seven districts of the Bundelkhand region with the financial resources of the state.
“About 47,000 hectare area will be targeted in the next five years at the project cost of Rs 175.46 crore, benefitting 1.17 lakh farmers,” Yogi stated.
Maintaining that Uttar Pradesh, being the most populous state, has the largest part of the country's fertile land, yogi said areas of 128.73 lakh hectare and 129.32 lakh hectare came under cultivation of Kharif and Rabi crops respectively.
He said in the year 2020-21, Uttar Pradesh became the largest food grain producing state in the country by achieving record production of 619.47 lakh metric tons,.
Highlighting the importance of natural farming, the chief minister said that besides increasing production, the objective of increasing the income of farmers had to be met along with conservation of natural resources and environment and providing proper nutrition to nurture human health. He said one way to achieve all these multiple goals was through cow-based natural farming.
“Cow-based natural farming means low cost and toxin-free farming. The rural economy has major dependence on 'gau vansh'. While agriculture is being mechanised, the utility of bullocks in the farm economy has also been realised,” said Yogi.
The chief minister went on to say that the implementation of cow-based natural farming in the state would help in the protection and promotion of gau vansh as well. He said the use of crop residue in natural farming and its use in mulching would also help curb incidents of stubble burning.
Yogi Adityanath further said that in the last two years, the state government was making concerted efforts to promote natural farming. “A campaign has been started to adopt natural farming within a 10-km radius of the river Ganga, he said and added that horticulture and agro forestry had also been included in natural farming within 10 km of the river Ganga in selected districts under the Namami Gange programme which would benefit more than two lakh farmers.
The chief minister also said that progressive farmers associated with natural farming were honoured with a cash reward of Rs 75,000 each on the occasion of Kisan Samman Diwas.
The chief minister also said that organic farming was being promoted in the state during the last three years under the Namami Gange and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, which had covered 75, 680 hectare area with the formation of 4,784 clusters, benefitting 1.75 lakh farmers.
Talking about the promotion of natural farming over chemical farming in the state, the chief minister gave some valuable suggestions in this regard. He said that demonstration programmes had been started by the state government for research and training in agricultural universities and Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
Yogi further said that under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Rs 50,000 per hectare was provided for organic farming, which included a farmer incentive amount of Rs. 31,000 per hectare for a period of three years.
The chief minister also maintained that one of the biggest challenges for the farmers associated with organic farming or natural farming was value addition and marketing of their produce.
“It is suggested that the guidelines of the scheme also include a budget for activities related to branding and marketing,” he said
The workshop was attended by Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat, and NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, amongst others.