In a bid to bring synergies between various programmes aiming at increasing production of horticultural crops, the government has decided to merge two centrally sponsored schemes — Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States (HMNEH) & National Bamboo Mission (NBM) with the on going National Horticultural Mission (NHM).
Both schemes currently run by the agriculture ministry will be merged with NHM, effective 12th Five Year (2012-2017) Plan period. The government had allocated more than R2,500 crore in the last fiscal under NHM, NBM and HMNEH. This fiscal, NHM has an allocation of R1,500 crore.
Mainly attributed to NHM launched in 2005, the production of horticultural crops (mostly fruits and vegetables) had increased from 145 million tonnes in 2001-2002 to 247 million tonnes in the last fiscal. The area under horticulture crops has increased from 16.6 million hectare in 2001- 2002 to 22.25 mh during 2011-12.
ith the exception of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and eight north-eastern states, NHM covered rest of the country. The mission’s focus was to boost horticulture production through cluster approach.
For improving livelihood opportunities and to bring prosperity to the North Eastern region including Sikkim, the government launched a Technology Mission For North East for integrated development of horticulture in 2001-02. Considering the potential of horticulture for socio-economic development of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Technology Mission was extended to these States from 2003-04.
“The aim of both the schemes – NHM and HMNEH was similar. Thus we have merged them for achieving operational efficiency,” Chopra noted. The aim of NBM was to increase area under bamboo cultivation to 1.78 lakh hectare during 10th and 11th five year plan. Under the NHM, 85% of the share is contributed by the central government and rest by the states.
Only by 11th Plan did government funding for the horticultural sector got a boost. “Prior to that, the entire focus was on rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton and tobacco probably because horticultural crops were not mainstream in Indian lifestyle and diet,”. Since then, purchasing power has improved and the Indian middle class has grown, which perhaps explains the sudden spurts we have seen in the prices of onions, tomatoes and potatoes.
Agriculture ministry said the horticulture would get further boost if 240 million acre of cultivable wasteland is brought under orchard crops without curtailing the area under food crops