Key issues in Agro Climatic Regional Planning
ACRP assumes that once land and water resources are developed, the desired levels of yield and productivity will be achieved. Soil conservation and reclamation, irrigation and other land development schemes have been listed as priorities. The proposed ACRP plans have sought major increases and redeployment of funds under these heads. For instance, the proposed district plan for Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu calls for increasing well irrigation allocation from Rs 2.24 crore in the Seventh Plan to Rs 180 crore in the Eighth Plan; soil reclamation allocation from Rs 0.06 crore to Rs 34.69 crore, and soil conservation, from Rs 2 crore to Rs 19 crore.
The plan will be financed by the Union and state governments, financial institutions and, in some instances, by the beneficiary farmers. State governments are expected to transfer funds from less important projects to priority areas, with the Planning Commission providing additional support. For instance, financing for the project in Mehsana district of Gujarat will be 21 per cent from the Planning Commission, 38 per cent from ongoing schemes and 41 per cent from financial institutions.
The plan will be implemented by a zonal team consisting of agricultural scientists from regional agricultural universities, officials from departments involved in land and water management and representatives of voluntary organisations and panchayats. The supervisory authority will differ from place to place. In Tiruchirapalli, it will be the district collector, while in West Bengal, it will be the sarpanch.
Zonal ACRP teams will suggest a cropping package to farmers. Improved varieties, commercial and horticultural crops figure prominently in the crop plan to raise yield and income levels. In Orissa's Puri district, three new paddy varieties suitable for waterlogged areas will be introduced by the state seed corporation to replace traditional deep-water varieties. In other pilot project areas, fruit, oilseeds and other commercial crops dominate crop plans.
The major ones are the reluctance of farmers to attempt new ideas, lack of consensus because of local-level politics and reluctance of state governments to deploy resources. In Tiruchirapalli, farmers and banks are hesitant about investing in dryland farming and soil conservation. In Puri district of Orissa, plan documents indicate formulation is not proceeding smoothly because the people have differing political leanings.