Himachal promoting off-season vegetable cultivation

Shimla : Himachal Pradesh is promoting off-season vegetable production in a big way for which emphasis has been laid on providing adequate irrigation facilities, an official said on Sunday.

The farmers are switching over to cash crops in place of traditional crops as a result of promotional programmes and schemes launched by the state government, an official spokesperson told IANS.

Vegetable production is generating revenue of Rs 3,500-4,000 crore annually and has emerged as an alternate economic activity in the horticulture sector.

The returns of off-season vegetable cultivation are very high compared to traditional food crops.

As per government estimates, off-season vegetables give a net return from Rs 60,000 to Rs 2 lakh per hectare whereas the traditional crops fetch from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per hectare.

The off-season vegetable production in the state in 2016-17 reached to 16,53,506 tonnes in 76,947 hectares.

Due to congenial ago-climatic conditions, the state has already earned name in the production of off-season vegetables like tomato, capsicum, green peas, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, potato and cucumber.

Mid-June to September are the months when there is no supply of vegetables other than Himachal Pradesh to the markets in neighbouring Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and New Delhi. The vegetables supplied from the state fetch good prices during off-season.

To give impetus to the agriculture sector, the state has prepared a project of Rs 4,751 crore for water conservation and rainwater harvesting and has been sent to the central government for funding.

Initially, Rs 708.87 crore has been sanctioned to the state in the first phase under which at least five developmental blocks of three districts will be covered.

Keeping in view the success of Japan International Cooperation Agency Stage I project, which was implemented in five districts for diversification of crops, the Indian government has given approval in principle for second phase of this project to be implemented in the entire state.