Poor marketing infrastructure, slow promotion and low productivity are some of the factors adversely impacting the expansion of horticultural crops in the country, an independent assessment report of the National Horticultural Mission (NHM) said on Tuesday.
The assessment done by the Agricultural Finance Corporation, a consultancy firm promoted by Nabard, EXIM bank and state-owned banks, also noted that lack of technical manpower at grassroot level, inadequate quantities of quality planting material such as hybrid seeds and lack of technologies are key weaknesses hampering growth of the sector.
Mainly attributed to the NHM launched in 2005, the production of horticultural crops (mostly fruits and vegetables) had increased from 145 million tonne in 2001-2002 to 247 million tonne during last fiscal.
The area under horticulture crops has increased from 16.6 million hectare in 2001- 2002 to 22.25 mh during 2011-12. India at present is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, contributing 11% and 13% of the total global production of fruits and vegetables.
“There are only handful of states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu who needs to catch up with rest of the country,” Sanjeev Chopra, director, NHM told FE.
States such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharahstra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Orissa have done well in terms of increasing horticultural production through cluster approach. Acknowledging that due to NHM, there had been an increase in horticultural crops, the Agricultural Finance Commission in its report said “this increase could not match with the available marketing facilities and resulted in number of problems”.
The commission also observed that current agri-marketing information systems like AGMARKNET and National Horticultural Board depend on information received from the office of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), which is often based on information furnished by brokers.
“This information is not real-time and doubts are raised about the correctness of information,” the committee said. The report also called for free movement of fresh horticulture produce.