Shimla: About 18,200 hectares of high density orchards will be raised on private land in Himachal Pradesh at an outlay of Rs 1,134 crore to be funded largely by the World Bank, an official here stated.
The project, to be implemented in the ratio of 80:20 between World Bank and the state government, will have its main focus on rejuvenation of existing apple orchards and replacement of old senile orchards with improved variety with high density plantation, the government spokesperson said.
A special provision has been made in the project to develop community irrigation facilities and approximately 19,560 hectare of project area will be covered to ensure availability of water during summer and critical stages of plant growth, he said.
Sustainable horticulture management practices will be promoted by introducing high-density and disease-free plantation with an average of 2,400 to 2,600 plants per hectare.
Comprehensive training and capacity development of farmers and horticulture staff will be undertaken through field visits, workshops and practical demonstrations, said the spokesperson.
To facilitate growers in the high production areas, farmer-producer organisations will be formed to provide financial assistance.
Agro-entrepreneurs will be facilitated through setting up of agro-business intelligence services and financial support for efficient and online delivery of horticulture-related services to the farmers and other stakeholders, he said.
This will help establishing agri-business entrepreneurs in the state to support horticulture industry as a whole.
The fruit production of Himachal Pradesh, known as country’s fruit bowl, is a major contributor to the state GDP.
The sector, comprising fruits, flowers and vegetables, generates an annual income of Rs 7,600 crore.
However, the apple production per hectare in the state is six to eight tonnes as compared to the international standard of 35 to 50 tonnes per hectare.
A seasoned journalist with over two decades of experience, Vishal writes on a wide range of subjects which include biodiversity, climate change and links between environment & development. He also covers politics and other developments in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. He lives in Chandigarh & Shimla.