To replace old apple orchards, Himachal prepares Rs 148 Cr project

pawarShimla: To replenish aging apple orchards the Himachal Pradesh government has mooted an ambitious Rs 148 crore plan even as horticulture minister Narender Bragta, has got the central agricultural ministry to agree for increasing assistance from Rs 23,000 to Rs 56,000 per hectare for replantation of orchards with newer varieties.

Bragta met union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar at Delhi on Wednesday seeking enhancement of assistance for re-plantation of aging and senile apple orchards.

The central government has also agreed to provide full central assistance for  horticulture equipments to be used for replantation in the apple orchads, said Bragta.

An ambitious plan of Rs. 148 crore to replenish aged apple orchards with new improved high yielding, disease resistatant improved varieties on 1000 hectare of land over a period of three years of the eleventh five year plans has been formulated, said the minister.

He said that in certain areas where clonal root stock have not been adapted well , the plantations on seedlings rootstock will be raised.

Bragta said that about 58 lakhs apple plants would be supplied by government from registered nurseries and tissue culture labs.

The horticulture department was maintaining 30  departmental nurseries and 4 tissue culture labs, besides there are around 400 registered nursaries and 4 tissue culture labs in the private sector which provide improved plant material.

The state has sought Rs. 73.80 crore as central assistance for executing various component of the projects as it targets to enhance apple production by 80,000  MT per annum and increase productivity by 400% under  the rejuvenated 1000 hectare area through high density plantation of spur varieties .

The minister sought removal of a cap fixed on the Controlled Atmosphere  (CA) facilities so as to strengthen the cold chain infrastructure in Himachal Pradesh.

He demanded that central ceiling of project cost of CA storage upto Rs. 16.00 crore should be removed keeping in view of higher investment costs in hilly areas.

Bragta also sought that percentage of credit linked back ended subsidy be enhanced from present 33.3% to 50% to attract the private investment in this Sector.

Under normal climatic conditions fruit production is around 6 Lakh MT per annum.

The state has cold storage facilities of 16000 MT at production points and another 18000 MT capacity of controlled atmosphere facilities have been set up in Shimla district in the private sector under horticulture technology mission.

An additional 15 Controlled Atmosphere stores of each 5000 MT capacity are required along with  four reefer vans to meet the growing demands of controlled atmosphere facilities, said Bragta, for which he sought Rs. 212.50 crore central assistance to set up cold chain facilities.

Others who attended the meeting included Privender Singh Rawat, horticulture minister of Uttrakhand, Anurag Singh Thakur, Virender Kashyap – MPs from Himachal Pradesh, Ram Subhag Singh, secretary horticulture and Gurdev Singh,  director horticulture.

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