State participation in converging schemes yeilds results: Pawar

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New Delhi, Mar 20 (UNI) Active participation of states in horticulture-sector schemes and convergence of schemes of different ministries have started bearing fruits and the high growth in this sector will be visible from 2008-09.

This was underlined by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar while reviewing the progress of National Horticulture Mission and the National Horticulture Board here today.

Charting the investments made and support given by the Mission and the Board in the last few years, Mr Pawar informed that the Horticulture Mission has been extended to 340 districts and Rs 8809 crore have been earmarked for it in the XI Plan. The Horticulture Board has assisted 7,035 projects for area expansion and 209 for cold storage in 2006-07.

He expressed satisfaction that the National Horticulture Mission has been able to achieve convergence of programme of different Ministries. He elaborated that the Ministry of Rural Development has taken initiative to provide road connectivity in NHM clusters for linking with markets under the Prime Minister's Grameen Sadak Yojana.

The Ministry of Food Processing Industries has initiated dialogue for operationalising food processing units in NHM clusters.

There is a close coordination between Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the development of medicinal plants.

The Krishi Vigyan Kendras and State Agriculture Universities are being closely involved in providing technical support and expertise for the mission activities apart from directly implementing some key activities such as production of quality planting material, demonstration of technologies and training of farmers.

The ICAR has been closely involved in developing a package for responding to the Bacterial Blight disease in Pomegranate, which has affected large areas in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Special incentives have also been provided under the NHM to contain the Blight infestation in pomegranate.' .

Mr Pawar also stated that the norms of the Mission are being re-cast based on the feedback received from stakeholders. 'Feedback from the State Horticulture Missions and growers revealed the need to have a re-look at the cost norm and pattern of assistance for some of the major components of the Mission.

A committee constituted by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has gone into the matter, and based on their recommendation, the Scheme is being revised with the approval of EFC and CCEA,' he said.

The Minister also disclosed that the guidelines for setting up wholesale markets have been revised and those for terminal markets are under revision.

A new component of Terminal Markets, which was included in NHM during 2006-07 in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, is yet to take off due to certain operational difficulties.

The guidelines for the Terminal Market component are proposed to be revised in consultation with the Planning Commission and other concerned Ministries. In the meanwhile, the guidelines for setting up of wholesale markets have been revised to facilitate the establishment of collection centres along with the wholesale markets.

The Agriculture Minister presided over the fourth meeting of General Council of National Horticulture Mission and the 16th meeting of the Board of Directors of the National Horticulture Boardon here today.

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