New Delhi, May 12 : Union Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar today asked the private sector and Government agencies to work together to remove the problems faced by the horticulture sector so as to tap its huge potential.
Inaugurating the fruit and vegetable summit here, Pawar said that stress on crop diversification in the last few years has led to fast rise in horticultural production to 185.2 MT. However, 'the sector is constrained by widespread fragmentation in the supply chain, low productivity levels, and huge post harvest losses arising out of inadequate storage, cold chain and transport infrastructure, logistics and supply chain management'.
As a result of these problems, there is very little value addition, for example in the area of exports and food processing, he added.
Sharing his concerns in this regard, he said: "In India less than two per cent of the fruits and vegetables produced are processed as against 65 per cent in the US, 70 per cent in Brazil, 78 per cent in the Philippines, 80 per cent in South Africa and 83 per cent in Malaysia."
"Due to rapid expansion of internal and external market and processing industries, it is essential to develop such techniques, which reduce post harvest losses, do value addition and improve quality of the product," he added.
Pawar also called for adoption of modern technology, making use and provisions under the National Horticulture Mission and using research infrastructure of ICAR and State Agriculture Universities.
At the same time he said, 'there is need to stimulate private investment, particularly in the field of infrastructure, marketing and research and development with particular emphasis in organizing production programmes to cater to the needs of the processing industry and exports'.
The two-day summit is being organised by CII and Ministry of Agriculture.
Representatives from industries, central and state governments, agriculture promotion agencies and experts are participating in the summit.