Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on Sunday said that the government is working on a project under which traditional farming techniques will be linked with modern technologies for transformation in agri sector, besides introducing new schemes for farmers in the upcoming budget to increase their income.
Sukhu, speaking during the first-of-its-kind interaction meet with the milk producers of the state at Hotel Peterhoff in Shimla, said that the government was encouraging agriculture as an industry to make the farmers self-reliant. “Since agriculture and milk production plays a pivotal role in promoting rural economy, the State Government is coming up with innovative schemes in the upcoming budget to increase the income of farmers which were likely to yield positive results in the next two years,” he said.
The Chief Minister said that there is a direct relationship between agriculture and milk production, and it becomes necessary to go for natural and organic farming in a big way, thereby linking the traditional farming techniques with modern technologies.
“We intend to bring revolutionary change in agriculture sector with special focus on promoting animal husbandry,” he said, adding that an increase of Rs six in milk purchase price is an indication of our future course of action to strengthen the diary sector for assuring fixed income to the farmers.
Notably, in December last year, the Chief Minister had announced an increase of Rs six in the milk procurement price from Rs 31 to Rs 37 per litre from January 2024. He had also promised to buy milk for Rs 80-100 per litre from farmers during the eve of the last assembly polls in 2022.
He said that the fundamental changes were being made in the policies and rules to ensure that money goes directly to the farmers. The government will also consider giving tax concession to the milk producers, he assured.
At the same time, the Chief Minister said that the milk quality in Himalayan region was far better and efforts were afoot for its marketing which will add to the income of farmers and making agriculture as an employment oriented industry besides taking measures to prevent them from exploitation while selling their produce in the open market. These efforts will help in strengthening the rural economy, he said.
To strengthen the state’s milk-based economy, ‘Him Ganga Yojana’ has been started with a budget provision of Rs 500 crore.
To cost Rs 226 crore, the milk processing plant with a capacity of 1.50 lakh liters per day will be established at Dhagwar in Kangra district, which can be enhanced up to three lakh liters per day. “The process of land transfer for setting up the plant has been completed. The unutilized land of the farmers will be used for setting up solar plants to strengthen the rural economy under the second phase of Rajiv Gandhi Self-Employment Startup Scheme,” he added.
The Chief Minister also held extensive discussions with the farmers in an open dialogue session and assured to incorporate the suggestions received from the farmers and other stakeholders in its policy document. The Chief Minister also visited the exhibition set up by MILKFED and interacted with the farmers.
Govt’s historic increase in milk procurement price ignites joy among producers
Himachal Government’s decision to increase milk’s procurement price by Rs six has sparked jubilation among dairy producers across the State. The move, hailed as the highest one-time hike in the last three decades, has injected newfound optimism into the animal husbandry sector.
Running a milk society for past 29 years, Palampur’s Anil Kumar expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Chief Minister during the interaction meeting. “This increase, compared to a mere Rs 18 increment over the past 30 years, signifies a significant leap forward for us,” he said.
Vikas Sarin, recounting his journey into dairy farming, said: “The initial struggle was daunting, but with this price hike, 450 farmers have joined our society, recognizing the superior quality of Himachal's milk.”
Sunita from Nadaun lauded the government's resolve, noting, “Rs six increase at once is unprecedented. It's a testament to the Chief Minister's determination, benefiting thousands of farmers.” Kullu’s Reena Devi also shared her delight, revealing a substantial increase in her monthly income. “This decision has brought tangible improvements to our lives,” she exclaimed.
Panna Lal of Manali echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing the widespread benefits reaching thousands of farmers. Tula Ram from Rampur Bushahr praised the government's direct engagement with farmers, foreseeing long-term gains for the sector. “This initiative, coupled with expedited payments through Milkfed, reflects the government's commitment,” he remarked.
JR Kaundal of Vyasdhenu, Bilaspur, highlighted the government's proactive approach, stating, “Our organization, serving 70 gram panchayats, sees this as a transformative step that will bolster the dairy sector significantly.”