Model Districts Development Progam

PROSPERITY 2000: Strategy To Achieve Full Employment and Eradicate
Poverty In India By The Year 2000


I. Introduction

The study of employment potentials in India conducted by the International Commission On Peace and Food presents a strategy to achieve full employment in the country and raise all Indian families above the poverty line by the year 2000. The strategy is based on a shift to intensive commercial agriculture, agro-industries and agro-exports. It envisions the creation of 100 million new jobs by the end of the decade--which should be sufficient to provide year-round employment to all job seekers in the country at wage levels above the poverty line--generation of an additional Rs 40,000 crores a year of agro-based exports, and production of sufficient food to meet the full nutritional requirements of the population.

The strategy lays stress on the enormous commercial and technological potential for accelerated development of horticulture, aquaculture, sericulture, cotton, sugar, and wasteland development for forestry and fodder crops. It calls for the establishment of integrated producers' organizations which combine production, processing and marketing functions and for close linkages between primary producers and private industry in the form of joint sector corporations.

Implementation of this ambitious programme will require simultaneous and overlapping efforts by all sections of the society, including government, producers organizations, private sector, voluntary agencies, educational and research institutions, the media and the public-at-large. Although the strategy contains specific programmes for implementation by government agencies, the primary objective of the strategy is to stimulate a movement of accelerated development activities by the people. The role of government is mainly that of a catalyst, which educates the population regarding the potentials, demonstrates new technologies and organizational patterns, facilitates greater activity through appropriate policy measures and provides the essential supporting infrastructure.

A key component of the strategy is the establishment of model districts in different parts of the country to demonstrate and accelerate dissemination of the new commercial, organizational and technological approaches and to act as centers from which they can be extended and multiplied throughout India.

II. Objectives of the model districts

The model districts are intended to serve a number of related but distinct functions:

A. Full employment: The main objective of the strategy is to generate sufficient jobs to absorb the backlog of unemployed and underemployed persons in the country and provide job opportunities for new entrants to the labour force. The model districts will demonstrate that the intensified focus on labour intensive, high value added crops can rapidly increase the demand within the district for skilled and unskilled, educated and uneducated workers in agriculture, industry and the service sector.

B. Potentials of commercial agriculture: The district models will demonstrate the high profit potential of commercial agriculture, which is capable of generating net incomes 5 to 50 times greater than ordinary crops. Higher incomes for farmers are an essential prerequisite for improving the incomes of landless families and marginal farmers engaged as agricultural labourers.

C. Induction of latest technology: The models will demonstrate and disseminate improved technologies for production, processing and storage of agricultural produce, such as for hybrid seed production, intensive fish culture and sericulture.

D. Professional organization of production, processing, and marketing: The models will include the establishment of professionally-managed organizations integrating production, processing and marketing. These organizations will be in the form of cooperatives, producers' societies, corporations jointly owned by farmers and private business, and institutions operated by voluntary agencies.

E. Marketing direct to consumers: In the case of horticulture and aquaculture, producer owned and managed marketing organizations will be responsible for storage, transport and direct sale of produce through retail outlets established in cities and towns, thereby assuring outlets for the produce and eliminating several stages of middlemen that commonly take the bulk of the profits.

F. Optimal planning for land and water use: The models will include micro-level planning at the district level to determine the optimal strategy for use of land and water resources that will generate the highest incomes for farmers on a sustainable basis.

G. Catalytic role for government: The models will demonstrate how government can play a catalytic and supportive role in unleashing development activity by the population.

H. Implementation thru modified government agencies: The strategy envisions the restructuring of government agencies related to the major programme areas--land and water use, horticulture, seeds, fisheries, silk--to make them more effective instruments for implementation of the programmes.

I. Key role for private sector: The models will demonstrate new methods for harnessing the professional management and marketing expertise of private sector corporations to support crop production by small farmers through the establishment of jointly owned corporations.

J. Public education as critical component: Since the objective is to create a development movement by the population, a massive programme of public education is envisioned in conjunction with the field level demonstrations to rapidly disseminate information on commercial potentials, new technologies and successful achievements.

III. Components of the model districts

A. Micro level planning cell: A planning cell will be established in each district to identify the optimum strategy for utilization of land and water resources for increased agricultural production. The district plan will provide guidance for the establishment of model projects in the district. The cell will recommend to farmers the most productive and profitable uses for their holdings.

B. Irrigation and conservation of water: The strategy calls for putting an additional 14.5 million hectares under irrigation over the next decade, mostly by conversion of land presently under dry farming and by utilizing the vast area in the country that has already been developed for irrigation but is not yet being utilized. Irrigation potential will vary widely from one district to another. In areas where the potential has already been developed, emphasis should be placed on measures to conserve water (e.g. improved water management, percolation bunds and reverse pumping to recharge aquifers) and measures to improve water productivity (e.g. sprinkler and drip irrigation). Each model district will incorporate advanced water management technologies and techniques.

C. Integrated Horticulture Estates: Unplanned production and poorly organized marketing of fruit and vegetable crops resulting in wide seasonal fluctuations in supply and pricing have severely limited the development of horticulture in the country. The strategy calls for the development of eight to ten 1000 hectare integrated horticulture projects in each district. Production will be planned to include a wide variety of fruit and vegetable crops with different harvesting cycles around the year and generating net incomes of Rs 50,000 or more per hectare. Farmers will register their crops for processing and marketing as is now commonly done for sugarcane. Crop production will be directly linked to a local processing facility capable of handling up to 50% of total production during peak seasons. A marketing wing will distribute fresh and processed products through its own retail outlets within the district and in towns and cities within the state. These district marketing agencies could eventually feed into a national marketing grid similar to the one for milk products, as envisioned by the National Dairy Development Board.

D. Hybrid Seed Units: The availability of sufficient quantities of high quality hybrid seeds is a major impediment to growth of commercial agriculture in the country. A number of successful and highly profitable hybrid seed units are exporting to foreign countries and partially supplying the local market. But demand far outstrips supply. Each model district will establish a hybrid seed unit to meet the needs of local farmers for quality seed material. There is also excellent demand for plant propagation and tissue culture facilities, which have a large export market and can be combined with the hybrid seed units. Technology for the units may be obtained and disseminated by the National Horticulture Development Board from existing units within the country or by a technical collaboration with foreign seed producers.

E. Intensive Aquaculture Estates: Although the average yield of inland fish farms is less than 2 tons per acre per year, commercially proven technology is available within the country for achieving yields of 40 to 50 tons and profits of Rs 2 to 3 lakhs per acre. Each district model will establish 10 aquaculture estates operated on lines similar to industrial estates. Each estate will consist of 20 acres of ponds based on intensive fish production technology. The estate management will construct fish ponds and provide e