Himachal Pradesh State is located at the foot of the Himalayas in northern India. Though a small state, it has a varied topography and ranges from tropical to sub-tropical climate with a population of approximately six million people in 56,000 square kilometers of land. Of the working population, 70 percent are farmers, the vast majority of which are subsistence farmers. The objective of this study is to formulate an agricultural development master plan to improve the livelihoods of farmers and an action plan for priority regions. These plans promote crop diversification, particularly high-altitude vegetable cultivation to adequately take advantage of the region’s geographical characteristics. Himachal Pradesh is close to Delhi, the largest consumer market in the country, and can grow off-season vegetables for Delhi. While making use of this advantage, measures are taken to maintain the quantity of grain production for the small and marginal farmers who are the majority of farmers in the state.
Under this study, the development potential to improve the livelihoods of farmers and the factors hindering development are analyzed for the entire State of Himachal Pradesh, and master plan on rural development through diversified agriculture is formulated based on the agricultural characteristics of each region and its needs. By formulating detailed rural development action plan that targets the crop diversification in model areas of each region, strategies for improving the livelihoods of farmers and for poverty alleviation are identified.
Under this study, the development packages formulated for each model area were used to implement many project formulation workshops aimed at building the capacity of personnel in the Department of Agriculture. This reinforced the capacity of personnel related to project implementation in the state government, community, development planners, farmers and others involved in planning and implementation. A Japanese technical cooperation project is planned for implementation in 2010 with a focus on an agriculture extension system proposed after this study. Agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities and farm access roads as suggested in the study is also being considered for Japanese ODA loan assistance.