After making rapid strides in vegetable production the tiny hill state of Himachal is embarking on setting up high- tech nurseries to give major boost to vegetable sector. The state agriculture department has prepared a plan to raise 10 to 15 units of hi-tech nurseries by farmers across the state under the “establishment of centers of excellence for vegetables nursery production” scheme. The farmers would raise the vegetables seedlings under controlled environment to provide superior planting material to agriculturists.
The interested entrepreneurs or group of farmers would get 85 per cent subsidy for setting up high-tech poly-houses unit which would cost between Rs 20 to Rs 25 lakh, said director agriculture, J C Rana who recently visited Israel to have the first hand knowledge of the “high-tech vegetable nurseries”.
To begin with the Government has earmarked Rs 2- crore for this scheme and applications would be invited from interested farmers to set up cluster of poly-houses after which the projects would be approved. The location and technical capability would be the criteria for awarding the units.
The units could be set up in 3,000 sq. mt area for producing 75,000 plants and 5,500 sq. mt 1.5 lakh plants per annum and the stress would be on yellow and red capsicum, cherry tomato and off season cucumber, besides leafy vegetables like Palak, Dhaniya and five European vegetables which would fetch remunerative prices for the farmers, Rana added.
The move would benefit the farmers of the state as they would get quality material within the state and relieved of botheration to bring plants from Gharonda in Haryana and Kartarpur in Punjab where hi-tech Indo Israel Centre for Excellence in Vegetables had been very successful.
Rana said that the off-season vegetable production was about 14.50 lakh tonnes and with hi-tech seedlings, the production would increase by 10 to 12 per cent. The concept is to have maximum yield from limited land with minimum use of water.
The Gharaunda centre of excellence has made a mark by matching production levels of Isreal and this centre for excellence has achieved yields of 302 MT per hectare in tomato, 211 MT in capsicum and 151 MT in cucumber which is on a par with Israel and Himachal is aiming at attaining the same production levels.
The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had in his budget speech proposed to set up “establishment of centres of excellences for vegetables nursery production” by farmers to raise the vegetables seedlings, flower and other valuable plants under controlled environment to provide better planting material to the farmers and to provide gainful employment to the farming youth.