Himachal Pradesh is fast emerging as the Fruit bowl of the country and the State Government is endeavouring to make horticulture sector as a major source of income for the horticulturalists of the State.
As of now, 2.18 lakh hectares area has been brought under fruit cultivation in the State. For diversification in horticulture, an additional area of 3729 hectare has been brought under different fruit crops during by distributing 45.08 lakh fruit plants during the period 2013-14. For production of quality planting material, 39 new nurseries have been registered and 10.39 lakh fruit plants have been produced at government nurseries. Infrastructure facilities at 60 Progeny Orchards and 13 Nurseries have been strengthened for improving their demonstration value and increasing production capacity.
To improve productivity, improved varieties and root stocks of Pome, stone and nut fruits are being imported from advanced countries and the horticulturalists and farmers are being trained for the purpose. For technological dissemination in horticulture, 74768 orchardists and farmers have been trained by organizing training camps and courses and 460 farmers were trained by organizing exposure visits during this period.
The government has also ensured necessary steps for integrated development of horticulture in the state. A sum of Rs. 42.89 crore has been spent under Horticulture Mission during 2013-14.
To promote protected cultivation, the State government has enhanced subsidy on green houses to 85% out of which 35% is being borne by the State Government. The subsidy on anti-hail nets has been enhanced to 80% out of which 30% is being borne by the State government. During this period, an area of 2.55 lakh square meters has been covered under green houses and 23.5 lakh square meters under anti-hail nets.
To enhance apple productivity, guidelines for Apple Rejuvenation Project have been simplified and 560 hectare area is being brought under this project. A fruit production level of 8.49 lakh MT has been achieved during year 2013-14. With a view to ensure remunerative prices of apple produce to the growers, 34229 MT ‘C’ grade apple fruit valued to Rs. 22.25 crore was procured under Market Intervention Scheme during the year 2013-14.
The Government is equally concerned about providing irrigation facilities to the fruit growers. Under National Mission on Micro-irrigation an amount of Rs. 3.00 Crore is being spent to promote micro-irrigation. The State Government has also increased subsidy to 80% for small and marginal farmers with 30% states share.
Similarly, to fight pests and other related diseases to fruit crops, an area of 110.0 hectare has been brought under bio-control so as to promote Integrated Pest Management. To combat incidence of pests/diseases in fruit crops, 496.0MT pesticides valued to Rs. 21.38 Crore involving subsidy of Rs. 6.85 Crore have been supplied to the horticulturalists and farmers.
The growth pattern in plan size for horticulture clearly indicates the determination of the State Government to strengthen the horticulture industry of the State. Against approved outlay of Rs.84.97 Crores, an expenditure of 124.64 Crore has been incurred for the development of horticulture during year 2013-14 under State plan schemes. The Plan outlay for the year 2014-15 has been enhanced to Rs. 101.72 Crore with an increase of 19.7% over the plan outlay of year 2013-14.