The 'Bhoochetana' scheme, aimed at boosting agricultural productivity with technological support from city-based ICRISAT, targets to cover three lakh hectares rainfed area over 21 districts of Andhra Pradesh during the ongoing rainy season, a senior official said. Launched in Andhra Pradesh in 2011 by the government in partnership with ICRISAT and other organisations, the 'Bhoochetana' project started with 70,000 hectares covering seven districts and has seen a yield increase of 20-58 per cent of various crops brought under its ambit. It has benefited over 4.5 lakh farmers who have seen rise in farm incomes by 25 per cent, ICRISAT principal watersheds scientist Suhas P Wani told PTI. "Our target is to bring three lakh hectares under 'Bhoochetana' during this rainy season covering 21 districts.
It is a five-year project and the plan is to cover one million hectares," he said. As a part of the process to increase the area under 'Bhoochetana', it has been decided that 14 districts will have 500 hectares block as demonstration and in the remaining seven districts (which have been added this year), 100 hectares block for demonstration purpose will be set up, Wani said. "We are pursuing with the AP government how we can increase the area under each mandal," Wani said. Over four million farmers benefited from 'Bhoochetana-I' which was launched in 2009-10 in Karnataka in partnership with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and other organisations, resulting in increased crop productivity by 20-66 per cent in 30 districts. The increase in productivity yield was largely through soil test-based integrated nutrient management, improved seeds and soil-water management interventions. There have been enquires to start 'Bhoochetana' in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and some countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are also in the process of adopting the 'Bhoochethana' approach, Wani added. In Andhra Pradesh, the focus was on crops like maize, groundnut, sorghum, sunflower, chikpea, paddy, soyabean and even sugarcane (in small area) and cotton under 'Bhoochetana', the ICRISAT official said. The farmers' income level in crops like cotton increased by Rs 10,000-12,000 per hectare, while the other crops brought farmers a rise in income-level by 25 per cent. Wani said in Andhra Pradesh there was a need for soil health sampling, incentives for large number of farmers and for having farm facilitators mechanism, on the lines of Karnataka, which in turn can help further increase the agricultural production.