Shimla: Coping with climate change, the states horticulture sector remains highly vulnerable to vagaries of weather even after considering investments being made under the horticulture technology mission (HTM) to improve productivity through mechanisation, diversified farming and introducing higher yielding plant material.
“Starting out from a fruit yield of 6 tons to a hectare, we have brought it up to 8.5 tons per hectare and the target is to take it beyond 11 tons per hectare,” claims SC Dhiman, project director HTM.
For enhancing productivity Rs 105 crore has been allocated since under horticulture technology mission since it was launched in 2003-04. Dhiman informed that another installment of Rs 5.5 crore under the mission was received on Monday.
For rejuvenating old apple plantations and achieving better yields, imported plant material has been supplied to farmers, water storage tanks have been constructed and drip irrigation systems have been laid out, he said.
However all are not in agreement with the figures put out by the horticulture department.
DK Sharma, an economist reveals that 85 percent of Himachal’s fruit productivity is apples but whereas area expansion under apple recorded between 1991-92 and 2000-01 is 32.8 percent but production increased by only 24.8 percent, netting in reduced yields.
“Yield which was 4.5 tons per hectare in 1991-92 came down to 4.24 tons in 2000-01,” says Sharma.
Dhiman says that gestation period for getting better results for apple productivity would taken longer as newer stock material is only being planted.
Other than supplying over 24000 saplings of imported apple plants to farmers in the current season, a larger quantity groomed in controlled nurseries would be sold out over the next month to meet increased demand for better yielding plants.
Prakash Thakur, a fruit grower from Kotgarh says, “efforts to improve orchard management techniques including using better plant material are up against drastic weather changes being witnessed over the decades.”
“It’s still a long way for result’s to show up. Prolonged rains damaged much of the crop last year, said Thakur.
Sharma says by analysing productivity data, the horticulture sector in Himachal does not constitute a position of distinct advantage even in the country, what to mention of global competitiveness.