Agriculture is the main occupation and the major contributor to the economy of the Himachal Pradesh. Its rich agricultural production fulfils the demands of the various food materials of the state and feeds the people like a doting and caring mother.
Although Himachal Pradesh is a topographically tough hilly region, the state has been bestowed with a huge experience of straddling both agricultural and horticulture revolutions. But agriculture is deep-rooted in its culture and tradition. Appalled from the natural and intermediary problems, state agriculturists and farmers sought the intervention and protection of the state government. The farmers were swallowing the bitter dose at the hands of the middlemen till the state government envisioned a sound network of marketing infrastructure in the state.
To give a clear description of complex and vital problems confronting agriculture in the state and providing possible solutions, state government established H.P. State Agricultural Marketing Board in 1972. The farmers were taken out of the turmoil and both the farmers and state started garnering more revenues. With the concerted efforts of the state government, gratifying signs of growing public spirit were noticed on the faces of the farmers.
The state government addressed the predominant sentiments of the state farmers by providing better marketing facilities. By taking the share of the responsibility that lies with it as the ruling body, the state government make sure that no more rigged rates are prevalent in the state markets. The state government conscripted the sprucing up of the marketing facilities in the state agriculture. The Himachal Pradesh Agricultural & Horticultural Produce Marketing (Development & Regulation) Act, 2005 was implemented to amend the law in the state. Ten Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC’s) have been established in the state under the Act.
To bridge the gap between farmers and prosperity, the state government constructed markets yards including infrastructural facilities like Shop-Cum-Godowns, Auction Platform, Farmer’s Rest Houses, Internal Roads, Compound Wall, Drinking Water facilities, toilets, CCTV cameras and other facilities. So far, 56 markets yards have been constructed during the present tenure of the state government. To provide better connectivity to remote areas, the state government came up with ropeways. Eight ropeways are completed till now.
The lack of furnished roads pushes state farmers to sell their production to local traders in lieu of meagre prices. Link roads were constructed to facilitate smooth transportation of agricultural produce to markets on time. To solve marketing problem of the farmers of far-flung areas, the state government constructed fruit and vegetable storage centres.
The state government also aimed to encourage Organic products to reach the national environmental objectives, and has also taken it as a step towards sustainable development of agriculture. So far 17 cold stores have been established by the state government. The state government is also planning to construct more cold stores and controlled atmosphere (CA) stores at Parala, Rohru, Baghi, Kotkhai & Kharapathar (District Shimla), Khagsu, Bandrol (District Kullu).
For better Marketing, Crop Production Managements and Agricultural Marketing, Agricultural training camps are being organised. Along with farmers, the camps also include representatives from Marketing Board, Market Committee, Agriculture and Industries, Agricultural and Technological Universities. Agricultural Marketing Information is essential for farmers in their daily work regarding crops, production and sale in markets. Information is being provided to farmers through 'Akashvani Shimla' and 'Doordarshan' about rates and other agriculture relevant information.
Market rates are being provided to farmers on 'Ágmarknet', which is an Agricultural marketing Information Network based on National Information Network. It provides functional and evaluative expertise in the marketing management for better information. (www.agmarknet.nic.in) a web portal, which includes H.P. as leading partner has been created. Price ticker board have been established in markets and sub-markets for benefit of farmers and traders.