With the formation of the Zilla Parishad the Agriculture department was split up into two sectors, viz., State and District sectors. While the State sector includes schemes such as town compost, sugarcane development, cotton extension, taluka seed farms, experimental and research farms, soil conservation, and gram sevak training centre, the District sector includes schemes such as kharif and rabi campaigns, paddy pilot schemes, horticultural development, construction of taluka godowns, air compressor, blasting and tractor ploughing, rural compost, fertiliser distribution, plant protection and appliances on 50 per cent subsidy, green manuring, intensive cultivation of food-crops and pulses, distribution of cement, iron and steel.
The department in the State sector is headed by the Director of Agriculture. Maharashtra State, Pune. The activities falling in the State sector at district level are controlled and supervised by the Assistant Cotton Extension Officer who is subordinate to the Superintending Agricultural Officer, Pune. He is designated as officer in charge of residuary activities.
The Agricultural Development Officer is placed in charge of the schemes falling within the sphere of the district sector. He is immediately responsible to the Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Parishad. The District Agricultural Officer works as the secretary to the Agriculture Committee of the Zilla Parishad. He is assisted in his work by Agricultural Supervisors, Agricultural Assistants and other necessary staff.
Zilla Parishad: Following is a brief account of schemes falling under the Zilla Parishad:-
Taluka Seed Multiplication Farms: This scheme is intended to increase the yield of crops per acre by using improved seeds to the extent of 15 per cent over the production of local crops. With this
view the taluka seed multiplication farms were established during the period of the Second Five-Year Plan. The foundation seed is produced on these taluka seed farms and is distributed in the selected seed villages. This seed is further distributed to the cultivators of 4 to 6 villages in the vicinity of the seed villages. There are in the district 13 taluka seed multiplication farms.
Fertiliser Supply: As a result of effective propaganda the agriculturists have been fairly acquainted of the importance of compost. To encourage them to prepare compost, under this scheme awards have been instituted and are given away to the village or the town producing the maximum amount of compost. Besides giving the agriculturists practical training in preparing compost, the district sector also supplies fertilisers. Government supplies fertilisers on consignment basis to the wholesalers as per the demand of the district forwarded by the Zilla Parishad. The wholesalers supply them to their respective taluka sub-agents who in turn distribute them amongst the primary societies for sale to cultivators. In 1968-69 the area under green manuring was 6,880 acres. In the same year production of town and rural compost amounted to 44,220 metric tonnes and 10,000 metric tonnes, respectively.
Trial-cum-Demonstration Farm: The trial-cum-demonstration farm is located at Ashti. It was started in 1958-59 to work out different cropping patterns suitable for Ghod-weir area. The farm covers an area admeasuring 59 acres and 11 gunthas of which the net cultivable area is 47 acres and 30 gunthas which has been divided into three units.
Agricultural School: The Agricultural School at Puntamba in Kopargaon taluka was established by Hind Seva Mandal. The Government took over the management of the school in 1947. The school was transferred to the Zilla Parishad in 1962.
The school provides for a two-year course in agriculture, mainly to the sons of
cultivators with the sole aim of improving their own lands by giving them
training in the use of improved modern methods of agriculture. The school covers
an area measuring 192.30 acres, of which 160 acres are under cultivation where
crops such as sugarcane, gram, jowar, wheat, ground-nut and hybrid are grown. An area of 50 acres owned by the school is under canal irrigation. Besides, the school provides facilities for education in poultry and dairying. Every year fifty students are admitted to the school. So far, 650 students have completed their training and have passed out from the school.
State Sector: The soil conservation works in this district are executed
through the Divisional Soil Conservation Officer, Ahmadnagar and the Divisional Soil Conservation Officer, Sangamner. The
execution of the schemes of taluka seed farms and trial-cum- demonstration farms and other schemes of the district is also entrusted to the Divisional Soil Conservation Officer, Ahmadnagar. The schemes for improvement and popularisation of improved varieties of sugar-cane and cotton are executed by the Sugarcane Development Officer and the Assistant Cotton Development Officer, Ahmadnagar.
Soil Conservation: There are two main divisions pertaining to the works of soil conservation in Ahmadnagar district. Of these two, one is located at Ahmadnagar and the other at Sangamner. The Ahmadnagar division is further divided into four soil conservation sub-divisions, viz., Ahmadnagar, Shevgaon, Pathardi and Jamkhed. There is also one sub-division of prototype package programme scheme located at Shrigonda. Similarly the Soil Conservation Division, Sangamner, consists of four soil conservation sub-divisions, viz.. Sangamner, Rahuri, Parner and Kopargaon. There is also a terracing sub-division at Akola. Thus each division comprises five sub-divisions under its control for the smooth execution of work under them.
The soil conservation scheme was initiated in the district in the year 1958-59. Upto February 1970, contour bunding work was carried out in 10,85,770 acres of land in the district. This scheme has become extremely popular with the farmers because it basically stops erosion of soil and also checks water run-off. This has greatly improved the productivity of land in the district. In addition the scheme has proved of immense value in solving the acute problem of unemployment and under-employment in rural areas. The target fixed under the soil conservation scheme for Ahmadnagar division was 32,200 acres. whereas for Sangamner division it was 28,000 acres for the year 1969-70.
Nala Bunding: Nala bunding scheme like the soil conservation scheme helps in checking erosion of soil and water run-off as also in making the land more fertile for cultivation. Under the scheme normal nalas and gullies passing through the land (area) are checked by earthen or stone bunds which facilitate the run-off of rain-water and check heavy erosion of soil. These nala bunds and check bunds also help in re-charging the water in wells in the catchment area which ultimately increases the irrigation potential. The target fixed by the department for the year 1969-70 was 50 acres of nala bunding work for Ahmadnagar division and 50 acres for Sangamner division.
Terracing work: The terracing scheme is in operation in the heavy rainfall areas of the district. The object of the scheme is to open new paddy fields for bringing new areas under paddy crop. In Akola taluka 1202-19 acres of land was terraced upto March 1969. The target fixed for the year 1969-70 was 500 acres. The work in an area of 177.15 acres was completed upto the end of January 1970.