Punjab Soil and Water Conservation Minister S. Chetan Singh Jouramajra, on Friday, handed over grants of more than Rs.4 crore for the development and agricultural farm production improvement works for 7 watershed-based projects being implemented at total cost of Rs.80 crore in Sub-Mountainous Kandi belt’s five districts Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, SBS Nagar, SAS Nagar and Rupnagar.
In a first ever such initiative, the Cabinet Minister interacted with more than 100 members of Watershed Committees, Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs) and Self Help Groups (SHG) from district Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, SBS Nagar, SAS Nagar and Rupnagar at Soil Conservation Complex Mohali.
Sardar Chetan Singh Jauramajra, while reiterating Chief Minisrer S. Bhagwant Singh Mann led government’s commitment to stop brain-drain and provide meaningful employment to the local youth in the state itself, emphasized on improving livelihoods of landless, small and marginal farmers by providing financial assistance or by imparting skills to such individuals or groups so that they can start earning their livelihoods in dignified manner.
The Cabinet Minister also asked for developing agriculture-allied sectors such as dairy, piggery, goatry, poultry, bee-keeping etc so that farmer has a regular source of income all the year round. Amid the rising awareness of harmful effects of chemicals used in agriculture, he called upon expanding area under organic cultivation by promoting adaptive seeds, local manures, vermi-compost etc.
Representatives of watershed committees apprised the Cabinet Minister that the works have been selected and prioritized by taking all village community into confidence which include water body creation/renovation, underground irrigation pipeline, rain water recharging, land protection and drainage line treatment works along with works like improving livestock production and providing financial assistance to self-help groups and landless farmers.
Similarly, the FPO’s representatives informed that they started this organization in July, 2023 from just 30 members of one village, which have now grown to 270 members and approximately 1000 acres across 15 villages. They are undertaking activities like lemon grass cultivation and marketing, mustard oil cultivation and processing, goatry, piggery besides providing implements on custom hiring basis.
It is worthwhile to mention here that watershed-based projects are aimed at overall development by adopting a common strategy of multi-resource management and works range from Natural Resource Management to livelihood generation besides improving farm production.
In his address, Mr. MS Saini, Chief Conservator of Soils, Punjab informed that PMKSY-watershed based programmes are implemented across 7 projects covering an area of 28,800 hectares with a total cost of Rs. 80.80 cr. The project which is implemented by Soil and Water Conservation Department in the state will upon completion benefit 157 villages across 5 districts in the state.