Himachal promotes fruit cultivation through ADB funding

To make Himachal Pradesh a horticulture hub, the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded HP Shiva Pilot Project is undergoing with an outlay of Rs 100 crore in four districts of the state that would benefit 500 families, officials said on Sunday.

The project would be implemented in Bilaspur, Mandi, Kangra and Hamirpur districts. For this, 17 groups have been formed and fruit bearing sapling would be planted on 170 hectares.

A target of planting 2.50 lakh fruit bearing saplings of orange, litchi, pomegranate, guava, etc., has been identified under the project in July and August.

A priority would be given for development of those areas where the production of fruit does not take place, an official said.

Besides, the priority would be given to those areas where farmers have stopped farming due to the wild animal menace and also for economic upliftment.

The crucial project implementation would begin after the success of the pilot project from 2021-22, with an expenditure of Rs 1,000 crore.

About 25,000 families would be linked to horticultural activities in the project.

The state has initiated several steps like 12.50 lakh hectare meter anti-hail net is made available for protecting the crops from natural calamities. For pollination in apple orchards, 46,265 beehive boxes have been provided to the farmers. About 225 metric tonnes insecticide has been made available at subsidized rates.

Special training is being given for packaging of apple, cherry and stone fruits. About 3.5 crore boxes were made available for packaging of fruits. Besides, 8.3 metric tonnes of strawberry was procured from growers.

Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh Thakur said the main objective of the project was to strengthen the economy of the state.

So far horticulture activities are being practiced in 25 per cent area of the state.