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Conservation agriculture action plan for Haryana, India

A special working group of the Farmers Commission of Haryana, India, met for a meeting at the Commissions’ headquarters at CCS Haryana Agricultural University (HAU), Hisar, on 06 August 2011, where CIMMYT’s ML Jat presented an action plan on conservation agriculture (CA) for Haryana State. Over 100 people attended, including Roshan Lal, Principal Secretary of Agriculture, Government of Haryana; Raj Paroda, Chairman of the Farmers Commission of Haryana; Ashok Yadav, Director General of Agriculture, Government of Haryana; KS Khokhar, Vice Chancellor, HAU; Raj Gupta, Head, CIMMYT-India, and officers of HAU, the Haryana State Department of Agriculture, and farmer organizations.

As part of the action plan, the Government of Haryana will target diverse activities and investments in CA to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability. These will include a baseline survey by the Department of Agriculture, using a GIS framework to assess tube well water quality for irrigation, and the mapping, by soil fertility and cropping system, of problem (saline, alkaline, or water-logged) soils. Results of this work will be used to update soil health cards, which are used to advise farmers on soil treatments.

The project hopes to achieve laser leveling of at least 3 million ha, and to convert at least half of this area to CA cropping practices. The plan contemplates growing dry-seeded rice on half the area currently under basmati rice, and moving 10% of the total rice area to rice-potato/vegetables systems with no-till mechanical transplanting. Half the wheat area will be targeted for zero-tillage with surface retention of crop residues, through the creation of  CA machinery banks and “single window” services. Dual purpose wheat for green fodder will be promoted for use in the October-planted wheat crop.

Partial diversification of rice-wheat to maize-wheat CA cropping systems will also be promoted. If the plan is successful, intercropping using raised beds will be practiced on four-fifths of the sugarcane area and half the cotton lands will be brought under relay and intercropping systems to boost the output of cotton-wheat farming. The practice of transplanting cotton using highclearance tractors and small seeders will be promoted for the tail-ends of canals with saline aquifers.

Current subsidies for tillage machinery will be reallocated for CA equipment and prioritized to foster use of multi-crop, multi-purpose machinery. The plan also envisions creation of a CA network involving KVK extension agencies, the Department of Agriculture, and private providers.

The HAU will consider adding CA to its curriculum to develop a new generation of specialists in this area, and the agricultural information database from the state Department of Agriculture will be linked to the CIMMYT-Agriplex service to begin offering farmers real time information on markets, weather, and other relevant topics by cell phone.

The CA working group of the Haryana Farmers Commission is led by CIMMYT, chaired by Raj Gupta, and includes ML Jat, RK Malik, and YS Saharawat.