The Fact News Service
Chandigarh, January 3
In order to realise the plans of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann led Punjab Government to increase the income of farmers and ensure crop diversification in the state, Horticulture Department has been making all-out efforts to double the area under horticulture through the Centers of Excellence running in the state.
Taking nutritional security at the grass-root level as part of the Punjab Government’s ambitious drive Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh Hariyali Lehar, over 1.25 lakh fruit plants have been planted in the Government Primary Schools in the state.
Divulging details, Punjab Horticulture and Food Processing Minister Fauja Singh Sarari said that apart from planting fruit trees at Government Schools, Punjab Government will transform 10% of the forest area in the state into fruit orchards. “The planting of fruit trees will not only help in increasing the green cover in the state but will also ensure nutritional security to the people, especially children, who can’t afford fruits,” he said.
Cabinet Minister Fauja Singh Sarari said in yet another initiative to provide farmers a substitute for conventional crops, another Centre of Excellence for Onion will be set up at Village Kheri in Sangrur district. This would be the third centre of excellence to be established in sync with the Indo-Dutch agreement in Punjab, he added.
The centre is aimed not only to make the Punjab farmers introduce the latest technological and scientific advancements in the cultivation of onion but to break the traditional cycle of the two-crop system, which has been resulting in the depletion of the water table, said the Horticulture Minister.
“Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s government is focusing on increasing the income of Farmers by introducing new crops and the latest technologies while simultaneously continuing the efforts to conserve the natural resources and save the environment,” he said.
Divulging more details, the Minister said that this centre will focus on increasing the productivity of onions from 22 tons to 40 tons per hectare using Dutch interventions and reducing the loss in post-harvest by 30 per cent by using the latest storage technology of the Dutch. Notably, the centre will be established under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) with a cost worth Rs 10 crore.
The Horticulture Minister said that, presently, Punjab has been catering 25% requirement of the onion and once the centre will be established, the area will increase to 60000 acres within 3 years. Currently, 25000-acre area is being cultivated under onion crops.
THE FRUIT TREE EVALUATION DURING LAND ACQUISITION WAS TO BE ENHANCED
Fulfilling a long-pending demand of farmers across the state to get higher compensation during land acquisition for Development projects, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann-led government has increased the compensation amount to 4-5 times. Many anomalies were dealt with to bring complete transparency while ensuring accountability.
Horticulture Minister Fauja Singh Sarari said that the department has been pushing farmers for Silk production and encouraged over 2000 farmers. The Punjab Government will also establish a Chilli estate in Ferozepur this year, he added.
The government is also planning to come up with Horticulture hubs, which will bring down input costs of farmers by Rs 24000 per acre by providing a Community Hiring Centre, Plant Health Clinic, Soil Testing upto micronutrients level, Vermicompost, Seedlings of Fruits & vegetables etc. 25 such Horticulture Hubs will come up in next 5 years, the minister said.
Punjab has seen a quantum jump in entrepreneur inputs and nearly Rs 2100 crores of individual investment projects are in pipeline to reap the benefit of the GOI Agriculture Infrastructure Fund scheme. This scheme gives a 3% subvention on loan interest, with a maximum investment of Rs 2 crores. Rs 408 crores have been sanctioned by banks so far.
Cabinet Minister Fauja Singh Sarari has been a keen ambassador to this scheme and held a Convention on July 22, 2022, besides, a state-level session in Agri Tech on December 4, 2022.
In another major endeavour for diversification, a state plan scheme has been formulated where Rs 14000 per acre subsidy will be provided to farmers who agree to diversify.