Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Jan 16, 2002
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Tenth Plan to focus more on horticulture: NHB chief
Ambar Singh Roy
KOLKATA, Jan. 15
THE Tenth Plan, beginning April 1, will focus on horticulture in a big way, according to Mr J.P. Negi, Managing Director of National Horticulture Board (NHB).
``Horticulture is a gold mine. We just need to apply our minds and adopt state-of-the-art technology so that the potential of this sector can be fully realised,'' Mr Negi told Business Line during a recent informal interface here. The need of the hour was to amend archaic laws appropriately, ``the onus of which rests primarily with the State Governments.''
According to him, NHB has formulated various programmes ranging from production to post-harvest handling, marketing and development and transfer of technology. It also offers back-ended capital investment subsidy _which, however, is linked to performance _of up to 25 per cent of the cost of commercial horticulture projects.
The eligible beneficiaries of NHB's subsidy and promotional schemes include non-Governmental organisations, association of growers, individuals, partnership and proprietary firms, companies, corporations, agro industries, corporations and agricultural produce marketing committees, among others.
At present, the total operational holding under agriculture in the country is pegged at 1,655 lakh hectares. Of this, 153 lakh hectares of land is under horticulture. Annual production of fruits, vegetables, flowers, tuber crops, mushrooms, honey, spices, nuts, aromatic and medicinal plants, etc is estimated at 149 million tonnes. Of this, production of fruits and vegetables account for 137 million tonnes. Unfortunately, owing to lack of adequate storage facilities, post-harvest losses amount to 37 per cent of the total produce _valued at Rs 25,000 crore annually.
Stating that India was the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world after China, Mr Negi called upon entrepreneurs in the private sector to take advantage of available schemes and set up storage facilities. In the last two years, NHB has provided subsidy to the tune of Rs 133 crore for setting up 400-odd cold storages across the country, thereby facilitating the creation of an additional storage space of 19 lakh tonnes.
The NHB Managing Director presented a strong case for State Governments to amend the archaic laws that hinder appropriate commercial exploitation of the nation's horticulture resources. In this context, he said minor forest produce must be excluded from the purview of the Indian Forest Act 1927 and such produce must be allowed to be exploited for commercial purposes.
Higher land ceilings, he felt, must be allowed to facilitate cultivation of plantation crops in the 138 lakh hectares of cultivable wastelands spread across the country. Similarly, excise laws must delink wines and beer from IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) and declare such products as light alcoholic beverages not injurious to health as in developed countries.
While in India the primary emphasis has hitherto been on fruit and vegetable varieties meant for raw and table consumption, the need of the hour was to produce processable varieties to provide a boost to industry. In India, less than one per cent of the horticulture produce is processed at present.
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2002, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line