Maximizing the Land’s Returns
In Meghalaya, many farmers have yet to leverage farm mechanization and are largely dependent on traditional methods of agriculture. This can be attributed to a lack of awareness of the benefits of using agri-tools for higher productivity and efficiency in shorter time frames and the limited availability of these machinery in markets. Nengman Momin, Manager of the CHC at Rajasimla Songma in North Garo Hills said, “the dwindling number of cows and use of traditional ploughs became increasingly unfeasible over time as we were compelled to depend on hired power tillers from private owners who charged high rates of up to Rs 500 per hour.”
With a dearth of human labour and costs of cultivation escalating across the country, it was only practical to support the small and marginal farmers with access to modern machinery to improve the effectiveness of their activities. And hence, the establishment of Custom Hiring Centres, or CHC, 72 set up since 2020.
The CHC intervention aims to improve production efficiency, create an agricultural surplus economy, increase the possibility of farmers’ market participation, and promote high-quality farming development. Ownership and management reside with the project’s Integrated Village Cooperative Societies (IVCS) in a social enterprise mode. They provide fee-based custom hiring of agri tools and farm machinery at subsidized rates.
Nengman is pleased for his fellow farmers that a CHC facility is now open in his village. “The CHC here worked out a pricing model that was viable for business and set the rate of hiring at only Rs. 300 per hour which helped us save money.”
These common facilities have been established at identified value chain clusters of villages and are promoting the use and benefits of these region-specific tools through awareness and capacity building with support from the State’s Agriculture Department, Mechanical Wing.