Shri Sharad Pawar, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries today complimented farmers and all those associated with the development of horticulture in the country for achieving an all time record production of over 240 million tonne of horticulture produce.
Addressing the National Conference on Horticulture Production and Productivity here today Shri Pawar said that increase in production has resulted in higher per capita availability of fruits and vegetables, besides substantial increase in its exports, which has helped the country to earn foreign exchange to the tune of Rs. 14,000 crore.
Shri Pawar announced the formal launch of 2012 as the “Year of Horticulture” to bring horticulture development in the country to centre stage.
The Minister said, “ While we have achieved considerable success on the production front, the supply chain issues still need to be addressed. The Vegetable Initiative for Urban Clusters is an important step in this direction. This was launched during the current year with an outlay of Rs. 300 crore under the aegis of RKVY. To start with, the Scheme is being implemented with focus on sustained supply of good quality vegetables to urban centres having a population of one million and above. The scheme lays special emphasis on promoting protected cultivation of vegetables in green houses and shade-net houses for enhancing its productivity. Besides, formation of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO) and linkage with financial institutions through Aggregators is an innovative feature of the Scheme, Over 62,000 farmers have already been mobilized into over 3000 Farmer Interest Groups (FIG) and 50 Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) under this scheme.”
On Central Government’s decision to set up National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD) Shri Pawar said, “This will go a long way in addressing the issues relating to the gaps in cold chain infrastructure in the country. While the Government of India would be infusing funds to the tune of Rs. 25 crore, much of the investments will have to come from the Industry. The NCCD will strive to develop standards and protocols related to cold chain besides organizing training programmes for the stake holders of the cold chain Industry. It would be relevant to add that we have set ourselves an ambitious target of 15 million MT of additional cold storage capacity during the 12th Five Year Plan as against 8.75 million MT targeted during the 11th Plan.”
On Floriculture, the Minister said, “ It is yet another area which helps in generating quick returns per unit of area for the farmer. With production level at nearly 7000 million cut flowers, there has been significant improvement in their production. These enjoy good demand in the domestic and international markets. However, there remains good scope to further tap the international market through quality and price competitiveness. Hi-tech interventions being promoted under the NHM, HMNEH and NHB schemes need to be availed to the fullest extent.”
Referring to global standards in productivity, Shri Pawar emphasized on the need to match the world in productivity standards. He said, “The ICAR, SAUs and KVKs are close partners in implementation of various horticulture development schemes and their role will be critical in the coming years, particularly in development and dissemination of technology, development of new varieties, production of healthy planting material and human resource development. Besides, we also have to strengthen our extension machinery to ensure that best horticulture practices reach the farmers. Canopy management, which is one of the most crucial element for health and productivity of horticulture crops is conspicuous by its absence. Our extension machinery must deliver on this.”
About National Mission on Micro Irrigation which promotes efficient methods of irrigation for both agriculture and horticulture crops, Shri Pawar said that while India has achieved good progress in this sector, there is need to refine the technology to optimize the capital and recurring costs of micro irrigation systems. There is also a need to pay special attention to increase the spread and coverage of MI in the North East, and to ensure linkages with financial institutions to provide medium term credit for MI so that dependence on government support can be rationalized, he added.
On this Occasion, the Minister announced instituting awards for the Best Performing States in Horticulture during the current year.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Dr. Charan Das Mahant was also present in the conference.
Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Shri P.K. Basu, said that the initiatives taken by the Department have made a significant impact in terms of increased production of horticultural crops making India as not only the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, but also the largest producer of a large number of crops.
States were given awards for successful interventions in Cluster formation, High Density planting, Protected cultivation, Creation of Centres of Excellence for Fruits and Vegetables, Post Harvest Management, precision farming and micro irrigation.