The Himachal Pradesh government is making full use of the Mukhya Mantri Khet Sanrakshan Yojana (MMKSY) to protect crops from wild animals. According to authorities, 4,669.20 hectares have been safeguarded under this plan by building solar power fences.
The state government is offering incentives to rural farmers for the installation of solar power fences under the plan. A solar fence conducts a current generated by solar energy, providing a significant but non-fatal shock to an animal that brushes with it, discouraging it from invading a field.
The project has cost around Rs 175.38 crore and has benefited 5,535 farmers, as of now. The initiative was started in 2016-17 to assist farmers in protecting their crops against stray and wild animals such as monkeys.
Individual solar power fences are eligible for an 80% subsidy, while communal solar power fences are nominable for an 85% subsidy. However, the state is extending a 50% subsidy on barbed and chain-link fencing, and 70% on composite fencing.
According to officials, the number of beneficiaries of the plan has increased in recent years. The use of barbed fences in conjunction with solar fencing has proven to be useful in safeguarding the crop.
Because of monkey’s attacking the fields, the state has witnessed several hundred crores rupees of loss. Since 2007, the state has been conducting large surgical sterility of monkeys on the demand of farmer groups to assuage their fury over widespread crop destruction.
Over the years, strict actions are taken against such a persistent problem, as agriculture is vital to the state’s economy, with 90% of the population living in rural regions and 70% directly depending on farming.
Rajendra Kumar of Gaggal near Dharamshala, one of the beneficiaries, said he had 320 metres of solar fence constructed for which he had to pay just Rs. 1.07 lakh out of a sum of Rs. 3.5 lakh due to the Rs. 2.5 lakh subsidy.