Shrinking Agriculture Poses Threat to Rural Economy in Himachal
Majority of Himachal’s population is dependent upon agriculture as those living in towns also hail from agrarian families. Demand for foodgrains has also increased with the increasing population. Agricultural techniques changed after globalisation model was implemented by the country in 1991. Area under agriculture and land holdings should have increased commensurate with the increase in demand for foodgrains. However, reverse trend was witnessed as area under agriculture witnessed a decrease as people are no more interested to undertake this vocation due to changing life style, modernisation, increase in literacy rate and increasing farm inputs. Farmers still adopt old methods in agriculture in villages and far flung areas that produce cash crops. The integrated system of agriculture and animal husbandry is disappearing thus rendering agriculture land uncultivated and barren. Major portion of such land don’t even produce grass as they are slowly being covered by lantana and other weeds. Fertile land is being converted into barren land. People also develop a negative approach towards agriculture because wild animals play havoc with their produce. Our irrigation channel of kuhls is also neglected as more farmners are leaving agriculture to adopt other vocations. Why we consider agriculture vocation in low esteem? Youths having low educational qualification move to industrial areas and neighbouring states and settle for low paid petty jobs. We have not been able to develop a positive approach towards agriculture, animal husbandry and allied vocations that can not only strengthen rural economy but also provide useful employment to youths. For example, demand for milk is increasing but its supply is decreasing. Availability of subsidised foodgrains through public distribution system is another factor that is discouraging farmers to continue agricutural operations. Modernisation, indifferent attitude of state government, lack of cooperation, division of land holdings, present educational system and other such factors are limiting agriculture sector. We have to judiciously use human, water and land resources for agriculture purpose besides changing mindset of converting fertile land into concrete jungles. It is also expected that the state government initates steps to solve problem of wild animals besides providing subsidy for mechanisation of farm operations in this hilly state.