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NHB organises consultation on cluster development programme for fruits
Friday, 26 April, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The National Horticulture Board (NHB) has organised a stakeholder’s consultation on the cluster development programme for fruits like mangoes, bananas and pomegranate recently, as it is working to formulate a new scheme on the horticulture business cluster/value chain development programme.  

The newly-adopted Agriculture Export Policy 2018 of the Department of Commerce has also been duly taken into consideration, while formulating the programme that eyes more agri exports from India.

“A beginning is planned with the identification of priority crops and the best suited agro-climatic conditions for the identified priority crops,” said M Ariz Ahammed, managing director, NHB.

He stated, “Mangoes, banana and pomegranate have been identified as the priority crops to be considered under cluster development on pilot basis. Banana, mangoes and pomegranate constitute 31 per cent, 23 per cent and three per cent, respectively, of the total fruit production in the country.”

“Thus, it is planned to organise this national consultation involving all the stakeholders so as to capture both the problems and the prospects in the development of commodity-specific clusters in the country,” Ahammed stated.

“Currently, NHB schemes are individual- and entrepreneur-driven (not area-based) with no follow-up after subsidy release on productivity, market or sustainability,” stated an in-house assessment report by NHB on the development of the Horticulture in India.

It added that over the years, it was learnt that most of the individual entrepreneurs’ potential to grow has become limited for want of basic infrastructure, viz, roads, irrigation, power, cold chain, marketing, absence of linkages and strategic direction in the production area.

“This needs a paradigm shift in approach for commercial horticulture development from the current individual-centricity to an area-centric cluster approach on 4Cs (crop, cluster, convergence and championship),” the report noted.

Meanwhile, India’s horticulture production has reached 314 million MT (metric tonne), even outpacing its food grain production.

According to the report, India retains its position as the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables globally. The current production of fruits (97 million MT) and vegetables (187 million MT) not only meets the ICMR EAC 2008 recommended dietary allowance for the country with respect to fruits and vegetables (400g per person per day), but also the current production is near the achievement of the projected demand of fruits and vegetables by ICAR in its Vision 2030 (110 million MT of fruits and 180 million MT of vegetables) much in advance.

Ahammed said that upon brainstorming with diverse stakeholders, it is increasingly realised the Indian horticulture to reach its zenith, has to address identified and known issues, viz., to make every horticulture crop cultivation profitable, to produce safe and hygienic produce, enhance holding life/reduction in post-harvest losses, bring in transparency in price discovery and improve market efficiency, enhance processing and exports.

“It is in this scenario that NHB, for the last several months, has been trying to understand the big picture of Indian horticulture to evolve a possible roadmap for accelerating the all-round development and benefit of growers, consumers, industry and nation under cluster approach,” he added.

“The first step in the said approach is identification of priority crops/commodities. Thus, this national-level stakeholders consultation on mango/banana/pomegranate cluster development is aimed to formulate a strategy for the development of these fruits under the cluster approach,” Ahammed said.
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