Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Virender Kanwar said that under the able leadership of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, the State Government has ensured balanced and equitable development of every section of the society in the Budget 2022-23. He said that priority has been given in the Budget especially to agriculture, animal husbandry and rural development. The Minister said that agriculture sector has provided economic support during corona period, which was possible due to farmer oriented schemes of the state government. The results of Prakritik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana have been very encouraging and Himachal’s efforts in this area have also been appreciated by the Prime Minister. In this budget, a provision has been made to bring 50 thousand acres of land under natural farming. Atleast one model of natural farming in all 3615 gram panchayats of the state would be developed, which would help in training and motivating farmers of adjoining areas. Besides this, atleast 100 villages would be developed natural farming villages as per Government of India standards and registration of farmers practicing natural farming is also commendable. He said that Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) are being setup to provide direct linkage for farmers to market. Provision has been made to set up 20 more FPOs in the coming year, out of which 10 will relate to natural farming only. With the establishment of a new cold store of 5000 metric ton capacity at a cost of Rs 60.93 crore to develop Parala Mandi as a model market, the producers will get better facilities. A provision of Rs 31 crore has been made for strengthening 13 market yards in Phase-II of JICA aided project. After successful cultivation of Heeng and Kesar, now the cultivation of cinnamon and monk fruit would be introduced in collaboration with the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) on pilot basis. The announcement of increase in outlay from Rs. 5 crore to Rs. 10 crore for promoting local varieties of wheat and maize seeds to improve productivity and additional allocation of Rs. 3 crore for high yield variety seeds of other crops would prove beneficial to farmers.