Horticulture is playing an important role in the economic development of Himachal Pradesh. Varied topography of the State provides a great scope for horticulture and to ensure sustainable growth in horticulture, adequate thrust is being given on the productivity enhancement. There has been a remarkable horizontal development of horticulture sector during last three years. The Government is implementing various schemes for the development of horticulture sector by providing various facilities and incentives and consistent efforts are being made to strengthen the economy of the farmers and horticulturists.
For integrated development of horticulture in the State, funds amounting to Rs. 115.48 Crore have been received under centrally sponsored scheme during last three years. Subsidy on construction of green houses has enhanced to 85 percent out of which 35 percent is being borne by the State government. The subsidy on anti hail nets has been enhanced to 80 percent out of which 30 percent is being borne by the State government. During this financial year, an area of 2 Lakh square meters is being covered under protected cultivation besides bringing additional 12 lakh square meter area under anti hail nets.
There has been a growth of 94 percent in State plan outlays for horticulture development during the year 2013-14 to 2015-16 that have been enhanced from Rs. 84.97 Crore in 2013-14 to Rs. 164.94 Crore in 2015-16.
The Himachal Pradesh Fruit Nursery Registration Act, 1973 has been amended to make it more stringent. During the above period, 154 new nurseries have been registered and 254 nurseries have been renewed in public and private sector and 48 nurseries have been accredited. Presently, 667 registered nurseries and 7 tissue culture labs are being maintained under public and private sector in the State.
During the last three years, besides bringing 9219 hectares additional area under diversified horticulture, 22634 MT mushroom, 4725 MT honey and flower worth Rs. 240 Crore have been produced in the State. Presently, there exist 2.24 lakh hectare areas under fruit crop in the State.
To promote diversification in horticulture, memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been executed for conducting techno-economic feasibility studies on improved Hazelnut varieties with Ferrero Pvt. Ltd, Pune (Maharashtra) a leading international confectionary industry. Five prominent Hazelnut varieties are proposed to be imported from Italy as per MoU signed with the said company recently.
The State government has declared mushroom cultivation as an agriculture activity to promote ancillary activities in the State and a new mushroom compositing unit cum training centre with annual capacity to produce 500 MT compost has been established at Duttnagar in Shimla district. Additional 30 percent subsidy is being provided from the State government to promote pollination through honey bees. To give relief to the floriculturist, the freight on flower cartons has been reduced by 50 percent in Himachal Road Transport Corporation buses.
To improve production and productivity, 10 thousand plants of apple and 400 plants of walnut (Chandler variety) have been imported from France and Greece respectively. Besides this, 42 thousand plants of apple (Scarlet Spur-III, Red Velox, Jeromine, Buckeye, Gala and Modi Del) and 18 thousand plants of pear (Carmen and Abatefetel) worth Rs. 2.64 Crore are being imported through Horticulture University, Nauni from European countries during the current winter season. The guidelines for Apple Rejuvenation Project have been simplified and an area of 1000 hectare is being brought under this project.
To promote micro irrigation in the State, the subsidy has been increased to 80 percent for small and marginal farmers by providing 30 percent state share. To combat incidence of pests/disease in fruit crops, 348 MT pesticides valued to Rs. 14.45 Crore involving subsidy of Rs. 5.46 Crore have been supplied to the farmers during last three years.
The coverage of weather based crop insurance scheme for all major fruit crops has been extended to all potential areas of the State. The insurance coverage of apple has been extended from 17 blocks to 36 blocks and that of mango from 10 to 41 blocks. Besides this, fruits like peach, plum and kinnow have also been brought under the sdcheme by providing coverage in 5, 13 and 15 blocks respectively The Add-on cover for hail storm has also been extended from 4 blocks to 17 blocks.
During the last three years, 127791 farmers have adopted the scheme and the State government has borne 25 percent premium liability of Rs. 15.54 Crore against which so far, 44,092 farmers have been benefitted by a claim of Rs. 33.97 Crore.