GUWAHATI, Jan 5 - With a view to boost the horticulture sector in Assam and increase the average yield of horticultural crops, the State government is now giving thrust on proper implementation of national schemes as well as on initiatives like setting up of more Farmers� Producer Companies (FPCs) and promoting organic cultivation.
Official sources said that steps have been taken to expand the scope of Central schemes like the Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States (HMNEH), the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), besides State projects.
�The Central government has set a target to double farmers� income by 2022 and our State government has also started implementing policies to achieve that goal for the farmers of Assam. Horticulture crops are a major component towards contributing to the effort. However, the average yield of most horticultural crops in Assam is less than the national average. To rectify this, as well as to improve the quality of crops, the Horticulture Directorate has taken certain initiatives,� a senior official told The Assam Tribune.
He said that generation of skilled man power in agri-horticultural sector is a key necessity.
�Considering this, during the past two- and-a-half years, over 17,600 farmers have been provided training on various agri-horti activities under the Krishi Kalyan Abhiyan covering seven districts of Assam. The beneficiaries were provided with saplings of fruit trees. A total of 1.28 lakh saplings were distributed under the programme,� said the official.
Farmers have also been encouraged to come under FPCs to enable them to easily market their produce as well as secure financing without coming under influence of �middlemen�.
�In this regard, 25 FPCs have been formed by covering small and marginal farmers and another 28 are under the process of formation,� he added.
Another Central government project, the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD-NER), is currently being implemented in nine districts of Assam.
Sources said that ten FPCs, encompassing 5,000 farmers, have been set up under the MOVCD-NER and cultivation of specific crops have been started. Another two FPCs are to be operationalised by March.
With a view to meet the irrigation needs during the growth stage of crops, emphasis has been put on micro irrigation system comprising drip and micro sprinklers.
�The centrally sponsored PMKSY scheme is under implementation in the State and 782 hectares under various horticultural crops was covered under drip irrigation during 2017-18. Another 28,627 hectares is proposed to be covered under micro irrigation during the current 2018-19 fiscal and work is going on.�
�Recently, government subsidy for installation of micro irrigation system was increased by another 30 per cent under the Chief Minister�s Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana (CMSGUY) programme. Following this, the subsidy pattern has increased up to 75 per cent and 85 per cent for small and marginal farmers, respectively,� sources said.
The Horticulture Directorate has intensified its training programme for farmers in modern bee-keeping practices.
�Necessary inputs in this regard have been distributed in most of the districts. This will ensure not only enhancement in production, but also generate employment and additional income to the farm families,� said an official. Sources said that the Directorate is also focusing on introduction of climate-resilient technology for selected vegetables, fruit crops and potato, besides on value addition of these horticultural commodities for development of agri-horti entrepreneurship under the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART).