GUWAHATI, Sept 28 � India�s share in the global horticulture sector has been increasing gradually and its production is set to rise 4 per cent during the current year. Inspired by growing demand for horticulture produce, a section of youth of the State has now come forward to tap the export market. Hiranya Nath of Sipajhar in Mangaldoi is one of them who has started motivating the people living in the remote areas of Darrang and Nalbari districts towards papaya cultivation.
�What we need is commitment and dedication to become a successful farmer. If we work hard success comes automatically,� this was the immediate reply of Hiranya Nath. The farmer-turn-entrepreneur has already changed the fate of many farmers in the remote areas of the State. Some of them are now on the path of becoming entrepreneurs.
Starting cultivation a Taiwanese variety called red lady on a small piece of land in 2002 at Sipajhar, Nath now supplies papaya to leading buyers. �I need bulk quantity to cater to the growing demand. For papaya cultivation requires 2,850-square-feet land on which 66 saplings can be planted with return around Rs 3 lakh per season. The harvesting period is six months only,� he claimed.
According to him, in spite of having vast scope, the horticulture sector is still at a nascent state in the North-east. �The poor growth in the horticulture sector is due to lack of infrastructure and poor policies,� Nath pointed out.
Papaya output is expected to reach 13 million tonne during the current year. Though India is the leading producer of papaya, it has not been able to take full advantage of its potential in the international markets. In Assam, a handful of farmers are now engaged in papaya cultivation due to lack of initiative on the part of agriculture department.