Guwahati: The State government plans to majorly expand micro-irrigation, branding local organic products, and introducing high income generating crops, among other initiatives, to boost the horticulture sector in Assam.
Apart from the increase in crop productivity and farm income, the government of Assam will also be laying focus on involving the youth in the horticulture sector to promote self-employment. They, however, added that issues like insufficient manpower, along with paucity of funding for important projects and infrastructure development, remain a point of concern.
Various steps have been taken in recent years to realise the immense potential of horticulture in Assam. The government is now keen to further increase the scope of the sector. Several initiatives during this fiscal year are in line, including introduction or expansion in the cultivation of high income generating horticulture crops like dragon fruit, strawberry and Thailand variety guava, with modern technology to attract the young generation towards taking up cultivation and marketing of such products.
The Directorate of Horticulture & Food Processing will give thrust on protected cultivation to increase the production and productivity of high-value horticultural crops.
Also, has emphasised the production of good planting materials locally. Development of human resources in rural areas related to the modern horticulture farming system is another area where the government is keen to invest,” he added.
To achieve further growth in the horticulture department of Assam, few things need to be addressed and enhanced.
He said that the State Cabinet’s recent approval for the creation of the Assam State Organic Mission Agency (ASOMA) will help the horticulture sector.
“Increasing the area under micro-irrigation, branding of organic products of the State, promoting export of local organic products in coordination with the APEDA, and organising product promotion programmes at major cities like Delhi and Bengaluru are among the measures which are planned for this year. The State government is currently working to link up the local farmers here with the national market system to facilitate the horticulture producers to market their products by themselves,” the source said. The creation of a Panchayat and Village Council Development Committee (VCDC) wise database of Growers of horticulture crops is also on the anvil.
The Directorate needs more manpower as the current staff strength is insufficient. The government should, however, provide additional funding for export promotion activities and entrepreneurship development programs. Training centres in many districts need renovation. Additional assistance from the State government as a top-up for the development of infrastructures like cold storage, integrated packhouses, and processing units is required as the current 50 percent subsidy is inadequate. Besides, banks display reluctance to provide finance to unemployed youths.