Gujarat announces Horticulture mission to cultivate barren land

With the aim to transform barren land in the state into productive and cultivated land, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday announced the Gujarat Chief Minister Horticulture Development Mission. According to the mission, as a pilot project, the government aims to transform around 50,000 acres of identified land in five districts into productive land by giving it on lease to those who will grow horticulture produce and medicinal plants.

The government on Tuesday announced the ‘Horticulture Development Mission’ (Bagayat Vikas Mission) in an attempt to transform the barren land through leasing it for medicinal and horticulture cultivation. According to the mission, identified barren wastelands in five districts will be given on 30-year lease for cultivation of horticulture and medicinal crops.

The government has identified wasteland in Kutch, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Patan and Surendranagar. A list of land blocks for allotment in a transparent manner will be released on the I-Khedut portal. The CM has clearly specified that this scheme is not for common farmers, as huge investments and a lot of hard work will be required to convert the land.

As a result, large land pieces not under 50 hectares and upto a maximum of 400 hectares will be given on lease free of charge for the first five years to the developer. Under this mission, the tax on land conversion will be waived. The lease amount applicable will be Rs 100 to Rs 500 per acre per year during the 6th to the 30th year. The leaseholder will be able to install solar panels and wind mill to generate energy for his own use, but will not be allowed to sell it.

If the land is returned before the end of the lease period, no compensation will be payable. The final decision on land allotment will be taken by a committee chaired by the Chief Minister.

As an incentive, these farmers will get priority in power connectivity. They will be exempted from land conversion duties. The government will also offer priority assistance to lease owners for drip-sprinkler fountains.

“We are limiting the cultivators to horticulture farming as it brings good money from abroad, as it’s demand is more. The mission is on the lines of land cultivated in the Gulf countries and Israel. In the Kutch region, farmers have successfully turned barren land into productive land and grown dates which are being exported,” said Rupani.

“Besides the increase in agricultural production, this project will also generate employment in the state,” added the CM.

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