420 million dollar project for Maharashtra farmers

420 million dollar project for Maharashtra farmers

In a big initiative to combat agrarian crisis, the Government of India, Government of Maharashtra and the World Bank has signed a $420 million project to help small and marginal farmers in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra.

The project will increase climate resilient practices in agriculture and ensure that farming continues to remain a financially viable activity for them.

The agreements for the Maharashtra Project for Climate Resilient Agriculture were signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, joint secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, on behalf of the Government of India; Bijay Kumar, additional chief secretary, Agriculture Department on behalf of the Government of Maharashtra; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank, India on behalf of World Bank.

The Maharashtra Project for Climate Resilient Agriculture will be implemented in rural areas largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture.

The project will take up a series of activities at the farm and watershed level.

It will scale up climate-resilient technologies such as micro-irrigation systems, expand surface water storage and facilitate aquifer recharge, which is expected to directly contribute to a more efficient use of scarce water resources.

By adopting climate-resilient seed varieties which have short maturity, are drought and heat resistant and salt tolerant, the project will help reduce the risks of climate-related crop failure and help enhance farmer's income.

In recent years, climate variability has affected agriculture in Maharashtra, where farming is largely dominated by small and marginal farmers.

Farmers have low crop productivity and a high dependence on rainfall. Severe drought in the past has affected the state's agriculture performance.

For India to sustain its growth across generations and become one of the world's largest middle-class economies, the country needs to shift to a more resource-efficient growth path, which is inclusive.

"This project will help the rural poor, largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, use more climate-resilient farming technologies and conserve water, a scarce resource," said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.

At the watershed level, project activities include building drainage lines and preparing catchment area treatment plans that promote a more efficient use of surface water for agriculture, complemented with a more sustainable use of groundwater, which will ultimately improve the availability and quality of water at the farm level.

To strengthen the emerging value chains for climate-resilient agricultural commodities, the project will improve the capacity of Farmer Producers Organizations to operate as sustainable, market-oriented, agri-enterprises.

It will help bring to the mainstream the climate resilient agriculture agenda in various local institutions that deliver agricultural services to the farming community.

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