The Maharashtra State Cabinet has approved funds of ₹1,000 crore to increase cotton and soybean production in the State. About 42 lakh hectares in the State are under cotton cultivation while soybean is cultivated on over 46 lakh hectares. The output of cotton and soya is less compared to the production in other States and the government will use the funds to introduce new technology to farmers to increase productivity.
The cabinet observed that some farmers using modern technology are getting better output while other farmers are struggling to gain profits. Along with providing assistance to use modern technology to grow cotton and soyabean, the government will also use the funds to create a value chain in the next three years.
The government will involve agriculture colleges to strengthen the seed chain and also provide grants to farmers so that they can use quality fertilisers. The government also plans to use the funds to create basic infrastructure including storage facilities, processing units, cleaning and grading units and other infrastructure.
A press statement issued by the government said the programme will be implemented in the talukas where the average productivity of cotton and soybean is lower compared to other talukas.
The extension communication method will be used and farmers who are progressive and willing to experiment will be promoted as resource farmers to inspire other farmers. The extension officials will disseminate the innovations and research in agricultural universities to farmers.
Village level farmers’ groups will be created and these groups will be exposed to experiments in farming, field visits, and innovations. The government’s focus will be on capacity building, the government added in the press note.
Crops in the drought zone
Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of the State which witness the highest number of farmer suicides are the major cotton and soybean growing regions in the State.
Many parts of these regions are involved in subsistence farming and droughts and unseasonal rains have damaged the crop in the last few years.
Despite all efforts, the government has failed to curb farmer suicides in the region. The government hopes that the introduction of new technology which will result in an increase in productivity of cotton and soybean and will help to curb agrarian distress and stop farmer suicides.