Chief Minister said that Dr. Y.S. Parmar University and Horticulture Department should prepare new progeny of various varieties of fruits to provide fillip to the horticulture in the State which plays an important role in improving the economic condition of the people of the State. He said that Himachal was known as ‘Apple State’ due to its delicious apples and now heading towards becoming a Fruit State of the country. He said that Horticulture Extension Officers were friends, philosopher and guides of horticulturists and they should disseminate the latest techniques and knowledge to grow best varieties of fruits.
He said that floriculture was another area which has lot of potential in the State. He said that Horticulture Officers should guide the farmers to grow flowers as per the demands and the market requirements.
Shri Virbhadra Singh said that a blanket ban was imposed on cutting of mango trees during his previous tenure but still in some areas these were being axed illegally. He said that forest department should act strictly to stop this practice and should plant fruits trees and berries in the forests seeking support from Horticulture Department in order to provide food to the monkeys and other animals and birds. It would also help in checking the menace of monkey in populace areas, he added.
Chief Minister said that climate in middle and upper hills was conducive for the production of off-season vegetables and farmers should take benefits of this advantage being hilly State to improve their economy. He said that protected cultivation under poly houses was being picked up in the State and farmers were fetching remunerative prices for their floricultural and vegetable produce. He said that efforts were being made to create and encourage infrastructure for post harvest handling and processing of horticulture produce. He said that research and development was necessary to keep pace with developments in horticulture sector in order to take the challenge to feed the growing markets of the Country.
Shri Virbhadra Singh honoured progressive farmers and horticulturists besides releasing a souvenir on the occasion.
Rs. 3.50 lakh Contributed towards CM Relief Fund
Chief Minister was also presented a cheque of Rs. 3.50 lakh towards Chief Minister Relief Fund by Horticulture Minister Smt. Vidya Stokes on behalf of HPHASA to mitigate the sufferings of recent heavy rain victims.
Irrigation & Public Health and Horticulture Minister Smt. Vidya Stokes said that Himachal Pradesh has emerged as a model State in the country in horticulture sector which had helped in improving socio-economic conditions of the rural people. She said that area under horticulture in 1950 was just 791 hectares with fruit production of 1200 metric tonne which has increased to 2.14 lakh hectare with total fruit production of 10.28 lakh metric tonne. She said that Rs. 226 crore has been received under Horticulture Technology Mission for mechanization, creation of water sources, organic farming and establishment of nurseries etc.
Smt. Stokes said that 80 percent assistance was being provided to set up anti hail nets to the horticulturists to protect their crops from hails besides 80 percent assistance for construction of poly houses. She asked the horticulture officers to work with dedication and devotion to bring more area under this sector and propagation of horticulture activities in the State. She also urged the Chief Minister to fill up various vacant posts of horticulture officers besides removing their pay anomalies.
President, HPHSA Dr. Devender S. Thakur while welcoming the Chief Minister detailed about the various activities of the Horticulture Officers and apprised demands of the Association.
Vice Chancellor, Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry Dr. Vijay Singh Thakur, Additional Chief Secretary, Horticulture, Shri Vineet Chaudhary, Director, Horticulture Dr. Gurdev Singh, Former Horticulture Director Dr. K.C. Azad and Dr. C.R. Sharma, Horticulture officers, progressive farmers and horticulturists were present on the occasion.