Model Districts Development Progam

PROSPERITY 2000: Strategy To Achieve Full Employment and Eradicate
Poverty In India By The Year 2000


I. Introduction

The study of employment potentials in India conducted by the International Commission On Peace and Food presents a strategy to achieve full employment in the country and raise all Indian families above the poverty line by the year 2000. The strategy is based on a shift to intensive commercial agriculture, agro-industries and agro-exports. It envisions the creation of 100 million new jobs by the end of the decade--which should be sufficient to provide year-round employment to all job seekers in the country at wage levels above the poverty line--generation of an additional Rs 40,000 crores a year of agro-based exports, and production of sufficient food to meet the full nutritional requirements of the population.

The strategy lays stress on the enormous commercial and technological potential for accelerated development of horticulture, aquaculture, sericulture, cotton, sugar, and wasteland development for forestry and fodder crops. It calls for the establishment of integrated producers' organizations which combine production, processing and marketing functions and for close linkages between primary producers and private industry in the form of joint sector corporations.

Implementation of this ambitious programme will require simultaneous and overlapping efforts by all sections of the society, including government, producers organizations, private sector, voluntary agencies, educational and research institutions, the media and the public-at-large. Although the strategy contains specific programmes for implementation by government agencies, the primary objective of the strategy is to stimulate a movement of accelerated development activities by the people. The role of government is mainly that of a catalyst, which educates the population regarding the potentials, demonstrates new technologies and organizational patterns, facilitates greater activity through appropriate policy measures and provides the essential supporting infrastructure.

A key component of the strategy is the establishment of model districts in different parts of the country to demonstrate and accelerate dissemination of the new commercial, organizational and technological approaches and to act as centers from which they can be extended and multiplied throughout India.

II. Objectives of the model districts

The model districts are intended to serve a number of related but distinct functions:

A. Full employment: The main objective of the strategy is to generate sufficient jobs to absorb the backlog of unemployed and underemployed persons in the country and provide job opportunities for new entrants to the labour force. The model districts will demonstrate that the intensified focus on labour intensive, high value added crops can rapidly increase the demand within the district for skilled and unskilled, educated and uneducated workers in agriculture, industry and the service sector.

B. Potentials of commercial agriculture: The district models will demonstrate the high profit potential of commercial agriculture, which is capable of generating net incomes 5 to 50 times greater than ordinary crops. Higher incomes for farmers are an essential prerequisite for improving the incomes of landless families and marginal farmers engaged as agricultural labourers.

C. Induction of latest technology: The models will demonstrate and disseminate improved technologies for production, processing and storage of agricultural produce, such as for hybrid seed production, intensive fish culture and sericulture.

D. Professional organization of production, processing, and marketing: The models will include the establishment of professionally-managed organizations integrating production, processing and marketing. These organizations will be in the form of cooperatives, producers' societies, corporations jointly owned by farmers and private business, and institutions operated by voluntary agencies.

E. Marketing direct to consumers: In the case of horticulture and aquaculture, producer owned and managed marketing organizations will be responsible for storage, transport and direct sale of produce through retail outlets established in cities and towns, thereby assuring outlets for the produce and eliminating several stages of middlemen that commonly take the bulk of the profits.

F. Optimal planning for land and water use: The models will include micro-level planning at the district level to determine the optimal strategy for use of land and water resources that will generate the highest incomes for farmers on a sustainable basis.

G. Catalytic role for government: The models will demonstrate how government can play a catalytic and supportive role in unleashing development activity by the population.

H. Implementation thru modified government agencies: The strategy envisions the restructuring of government agencies related to the major programme areas--land and water use, horticulture, seeds, fisheries, silk--to make them more effective instruments for implementation of the programmes.

I. Key role for private sector: The models will demonstrate new methods for harnessing the professional management and marketing expertise of private sector corporations to support crop production by small farmers through the establishment of jointly owned corporations.

J. Public education as critical component: Since the objective is to create a development movement by the population, a massive programme of public education is envisioned in conjunction with the field level demonstrations to rapidly disseminate information on commercial potentials, new technologies and successful achievements.

III. Components of the model districts

A. Micro level planning cell: A planning cell will be established in each district to identify the optimum strategy for utilization of land and water resources for increased agricultural production. The district plan will provide guidance for the establishment of model projects in the district. The cell will recommend to farmers the most productive and profitable uses for their holdings.

B. Irrigation and conservation of water: The strategy calls for putting an additional 14.5 million hectares under irrigation over the next decade, mostly by conversion of land presently under dry farming and by utilizing the vast area in the country that has already been developed for irrigation but is not yet being utilized. Irrigation potential will vary widely from one district to another. In areas where the potential has already been developed, emphasis should be placed on measures to conserve water (e.g. improved water management, percolation bunds and reverse pumping to recharge aquifers) and measures to improve water productivity (e.g. sprinkler and drip irrigation). Each model district will incorporate advanced water management technologies and techniques.

C. Integrated Horticulture Estates: Unplanned production and poorly organized marketing of fruit and vegetable crops resulting in wide seasonal fluctuations in supply and pricing have severely limited the development of horticulture in the country. The strategy calls for the development of eight to ten 1000 hectare integrated horticulture projects in each district. Production will be planned to include a wide variety of fruit and vegetable crops with different harvesting cycles around the year and generating net incomes of Rs 50,000 or more per hectare. Farmers will register their crops for processing and marketing as is now commonly done for sugarcane. Crop production will be directly linked to a local processing facility capable of handling up to 50% of total production during peak seasons. A marketing wing will distribute fresh and processed products through its own retail outlets within the district and in towns and cities within the state. These district marketing agencies could eventually feed into a national marketing grid similar to the one for milk products, as envisioned by the National Dairy Development Board.

D. Hybrid Seed Units: The availability of sufficient quantities of high quality hybrid seeds is a major impediment to growth of commercial agriculture in the country. A number of successful and highly profitable hybrid seed units are exporting to foreign countries and partially supplying the local market. But demand far outstrips supply. Each model district will establish a hybrid seed unit to meet the needs of local farmers for quality seed material. There is also excellent demand for plant propagation and tissue culture facilities, which have a large export market and can be combined with the hybrid seed units. Technology for the units may be obtained and disseminated by the National Horticulture Development Board from existing units within the country or by a technical collaboration with foreign seed producers.

E. Intensive Aquaculture Estates: Although the average yield of inland fish farms is less than 2 tons per acre per year, commercially proven technology is available within the country for achieving yields of 40 to 50 tons and profits of Rs 2 to 3 lakhs per acre. Each district model will establish 10 aquaculture estates operated on lines similar to industrial estates. Each estate will consist of 20 acres of ponds based on intensive fish production technology. The estate management will construct fish ponds and provide essential infrastructure facilities for water and power. Individual quarter or half acre ponds will be leased out or sold to farmers. Training and technical support will be provided by a technical wing attached to each estate. Each district will also have its own central hatchery facility to produce hybrid fish fingerlings for the estates and its own feed production plant, both operated on commercial lines by private, voluntary or public sector institutions.

F. Integrated Sericulture Village Clusters: Sericulture is a highly profitable, labour intensive activity that can generate wages and profits of more than Rs 12,000 for every person engaged in it. Presently the various stages of mulberry leaf and silk production are staggered and scattered, passing through various middlemen, and minimizing the direct income benefit to actual producers. Each model district will include two integrated sericulture village clusters in which all the operations from leaf cultivation, cocoon production and chawki rearing to reeling, twisting and spinning will be carried out within a small group of adjacent villages. Each cluster will have 75 to 175 hectares under mulberry cultivation, a community silk worm rearing centre, a training centre, grainage, and full-time technical staff.

G. Other crops: The strategy calls for expanding the area and raising productivity of other important crops--cotton, sugarcane, oilseeds and high yielding varieties of foodgrains. The actual targets of each of these crops in each model district will depend on the suitability of soil and availability of water in the area and the average yields already obtained.

H. Wasteland reclamation for forestry and fodder crops: The strategy includes measures to reclaim wastelands for forest and fodder crops. Approximately 25,000 hectares should be reclaimed in each district over the decade to produce industrial hardwoods for paper, fuelwoods and fodder crops to support the dairy industry. Large contiguous areas can be given on long term lease to agro-industries, cooperatives, voluntary agencies and other corporations. Smaller portions can be leased to landless families supported by term loans from financial institutions.

I. Biomass: The model districts will incorporate proven technologies for recycling and improving the commercial exploitation of biomass products for production of paper, fuel and domestic energy.

J. Government Model Farms: The existing government farms in each district will be utilized as centers for demonstrating new crops, new technologies and higher yields. Each farm will be expected to achieve the yield targets established for the crops in the district under commercial conditions simulating those of farmers in the area. Talented, technically-qualified government officers can be invited to apply for positions on the model farms. Profit sharing incentives and opportunities for accelerated promotion can be offered for those who exceed the targets.

K. Farm schools: In each block of each model district, farm schools will be established on lands leased out from farmers for one growing season. Young farmers from the nearby area will be given field training on new and improved crops and cultivation techniques and paid for their labour. The farm schools will be financially self-supporting and will be managed by technically qualified officers who will share in the profits. A package of practices will be developed for each area demonstrating how small holdings of various sizes can be cultivated to achieve maximum income for the farmer.

IV. Selection of districts

A. In the initial year, ten districts will be selected around the country for participation in the model districts programme.

B. Since the success of the models will have a major impact on the success of the overall strategy, the criteria for selection of model districts is very important and needs to be done in consultation with state governments. The model districts will be the testing ground for handling new situations and resolving problems, so that they can be anticipated and smoothly handled at a later stage when the programme is extended to a wider area. To compensate for the greater uncertainties and difficulties to be encountered in the first round, the districts selected should be among the strongest in terms of their basic infrastructure and commercial potential.

C. The selection of districts shall be based on the following criteria--

  • The state governments which participate should be fully supportive and enthusiastic about implementing the programme and be willing to depute from among its most talented officers to work in the district.
  • The districts should be agriculturally advanced and have the essential infrastructure required to support successful implementation of the programmes.
  • Priority should be given to districts with significant untapped irrigation potential.
  • Districts should be climatically and agronomically suited from all or almost all of the crops incorporated in the strategy.
  • The districts should be centrally located so that they can serve as model centers for demonstration, training and dissemination of information to other districts in the state.

V. Management of the Projects

A. The district level agency responsible for implementation of the model district programme must have the authority and autonomy required for quick and effective action on a high priority basis. This authority should be vested in a Development Commissioner in each district. The Development Commission should be a technically-qualified person with proven managerial expertise in agriculture-related business activities.

B. The responsibilities of the Development Commissioner will include--

  • Coordinating the efforts and activities of government, farmers' organizations, voluntary agencies and the private sector.
  • Arranging for transfer of technology and coordination with central government agencies such as the Horticulture Development Board and the Central Silk Board.
  • Engaging successful institutions in establishment of projects in the district.
  • Assisting farmers with the establishment of producers' organizations.
  • Approaching financial institutions for investment in the projects.
  • Establishing and operating farm schools.

C. One objective of the district models is to promote the establishment of commercially viable, professionally managed, institutions in the agricultural sector, which operate free from political and administrative interference. As far as possible, the model projects will be owned and operated by producers, producers' societies, cooperatives, joint and private sector corporations, and voluntary agencies.

D. In identifying appropriate organizations to operate the model projects, efforts should be made to involve already successful organizations.

E. Professional managers with commercial experience should be appointed to direct the model projects.

F. A supervisory board will be constituted to oversee the operation of the projects in each district. The board will be headed by a Development Commissioner. Members will include the Collector, and representatives from farmers' organizations, voluntary agencies, state and central government, and the private sector.

VI. Role of the State Governments

All existing activities of the state government within the district that are related to the goals and activities of the model district programme should be directed to provide full cooperation and support to the programme.

Priority should be given by each state to development of irrigation potential, provision of power connections and supply, and development of roads and other infrastructure necessary for successful operation of the models.

State-owned educational institutions within the district, such as agricultural and engineering colleges, Krishi Kendras, agricultural research stations, polytechnics, and craftsmen training institutes should be instructed to tailor their activities to provide educational support for the programme.

VII. Role of the Central Government

A. Although the district models will need to be adapted to the local agronomic and economic of each state, the district models will share much in common. All will employ state-of-the-art technology, require a cadre of technically trained personnel micro-level planning and execution of projects, and experiment with new types of organizations involving farmers and private business interests. The districts will also benefit by a continuous sharing of their experiences, both successes and failures.

B. Overall responsibility for initiation, implementation and coordination of the model districts programme should be assigned to a central government agency. The role of this agency will be to

  • Coordinate the activities of the concerned ministries (Planning Commission, Agriculture, Environment, Industries, and Commerce).
  • Coordinate with the model district programme the activities of central government agencies such as the National Horticulture Development Board, the Central Silk Board.
  • Organize training for model district personnel in all types of skills required for implementation of the projects.
  • Ensure the availability within the country of essential inputs required for the execution of the projects (e.g. feed, seeds, production and processing machinery, etc.)
  • Oversee and evaluate the performance of the district models against the objectives established for achievement.
  • Identify solutions to recurring problems and new approaches to improve the effectiveness of the programmes and accelerate implementation.

C. Existing central government agencies such as the National Horticulture Development Board, the National Seeds Corporation, Wasteland Development Board, the land Resources and Use Commission, and the Central Silk Board will play a key role in implementation of the strategy. Some institutions will need to be restructured and streamlined for greater effectiveness. Specific recommendations for improving the functioning of these institutions need to be developed.

D. Where appropriate, these agencies may establish foreign collaborations to obtain the most appropriate technology for each programme area (e.g hybrid seed production, horticulture development, silk production, etc.)

E. These agencies should also be responsible for conducting training programmes for personnel who will be involved in establishment of the model district projects.

VIII. Massive Programme of Public Education

In addition to the establishment of field level demonstration and model projects, a massive programme of public education by educational institutions, the media and government will be need within each district to rapidly disseminate information on commercial potentials, new technologies and successful achievements.

IX. Budget

A. The cost of the model district programmes may vary significantly according to the size, location and prior development of the districts that are selected. Therefore, detailed budget estimates will have to be prepared after final selection of the districts.

B. The cost of the programme can be conveniently divided under four headings

  • Administrative: expenditure by the central and state governments and the government agencies responsible for implementation. Most of these expenses will be covered by existing budgetary allocations. However, additional costs may be incurred for a central coordinating agency described in para VII B above and for the activities of central government agencies in support of the district models.
  • Infrastructure--investment in development of irrigation, power, and transport infrastructure within the district: Expenditure under this head should be covered state budgetary allocations.
  • Capital Investment in the Projects--investment in land, buildings, processing plants, machinery and equipment directly related to the programmes such as aquaculture estates, horticulture processing plants, hatcheries and feed plants, etc.: To be financed by investments by farmers, private companies and financial institutions.
  • Working Capital for Production--including costs of cultivation by farmers, recurring expenses of processing and feed plants, etc.: To be financed by investments by farmers, private companies and financial institutions.

C. The share of the public sector in the model districts programme will be for administrative and infrastructure costs and as financial support to farmers and industry through government financial institutions. Since most of government and administrative costs can be covered under existing budgetary allocations, the programme should not present an undue burden on the central and state government budgets.

D. The major investment in the model districts programme will be contributed by the private sector in the form of investment production facilities and in costs of cultivation and working capital.

E. The actual quantum of investment will depend on the size of the district and the final scope of the models. In order to be complete, the model should saturate the district with programme coverage up to the extent envisioned in the ICPF study. However, it may be possible to establish the models with a lower level of investment, demonstrating each of the programmes but not covering the district to saturation.

F. Project Investment: The direct investment required in production facilities and cultivation expenses for full and partial implementation of the model programmes are summarized below and detailed in Appendix I, Table 1 and 2. These figures do not include the cost of irrigation and land development (except in the case of wasteland reclamation for forestry and fodder), investment in rural infrastructure and programme administration.

Full Model

Minimum Model

Investment per district

Rs 93 crores

Rs 25 crores

Investment for 10 districts

Rs 930 crores

Rs 250 crores

X. Sources of Finance

A. Financial resources for the district models will be drawn from a variety of sources, including--

  • Direct investment by farmers in land development and crop cultivation.
  • Direct investment by industry in production, storage, transport facilities.
  • Loans from financial institutions to farmers, companies, cooperatives and voluntary agencies.
  • Direct project assistance from UNDP, World Bank, and bilateral aid agencies which have expressed support for the strategy.
  • Resources allocated to various state and government agencies for implementation of programme objectives, e.g. irrigation, power, roads, extension, research, etc.
  • A special budgetary allocation in the Eighth Plan to support the central and district level implementation agencies.


Table I: Full Model District Programme (in crore rupees)

Programmes for one district



Horticulture Estates--10 of 1000 ha each

Cultivation of fruits & vegetables--10,000 ha



Marketing wing and Technical cell



Food processing plants--10



Hybrid seed, tissue culture, plant prop. unit--1



Aquaculture Estates--10 fish farms of 8 ha each






Fish feed plants--2



Marketing organizations--2



Sericulture Village Clusters--2

Mulberry cultivation


Central facilities, R & D centre, reeling units (2)



Reclamation for forestry & fodder--2,500 ha/year



Other crops--sugar, cotton, oilseeds, foodgrains


Farm Schools--36


Total for one district

Rs 42.74

Rs 50.31

Total for ten districts

Rs 427

Rs 503


Table 2: Minimum Model District Programme (in crore rupees)

Programmes for one district



1. Horticulture Estates--1 of 1000 ha each

Cultivation of fruits & vegetables--1000 ha



Marketing wing & Technical cell



Food processing plants--10



2. Hybrid seed unit--1



3. Aquaculture Estates--5 fish farms of 8 ha each






Fish feed plants--1



Marketing organizations--1



4. Sericulture Village Clusters--1

Mulberry cultivation


Central facilities, R & D centre, reeling units (2)



5. Reclamation for forestry & fodder--1,000 ha/year



6. Other crops--sugar, cotton, oilseeds, foodgrains


7. Farm Schools--12


Total for one district

Rs 9.42

Rs 15.57

Total for ten districts

Rs 94

Rs 156

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