Himachal planting fruit saplings in Shivalik hills

Himachal Pradesh has launched programme ‘Trees for Wealth’ under the HP Shiva project to plant fruit saplings on the barren land of Shivalik hills in Una district, Rural Development Minister Virender Kanwar said on Sunday.

About 233 hectares in 17-gram panchayats will be converted into cultivable land under the project with an outlay of Rs 500 crore, which aims to double farmers’ income through utilising the barren land for horticulture cultivation.

In the initial phase, nine demonstration plots have been laid on nine hectares in which 11,913 high-yielding saplings of guava, pomegranate and malta have been planted on the land belonging to 81 farmers, who will be trained to produce and commercialise their horticulture crops through value-addition and other marketing avenues.

A sum of Rs 77.75 crore will be spent under the HP Shiva project for drip irrigations, solar water pumps, among others. The Jal Shakti Department will execute irrigations schemes.

A total of 17 clusters have been formed in the state to harness tremendous scope for cash-yielding fruits farming. At present, 1,074 hectares have been covered under horticulture activities on which 2,868 tonnes mango and 1,261 tonnes citrus fruit produce was recorded last year.

The initiative aims to support 490 families with small land holdings from 90 villages through free supply of sapling of indigenous and globally popular fruit crops.

Around 5,555 fruit trees will be planted in the area under the project during the current financial year to expand the growth of the horticulture sector in the region.

Apart from this, provision has been made for composite solar fencing to protect fruits and crops from wild animals. There is also a provision of subsidy on agricultural equipment and agricultural inputs for setting up a drip irrigation system and management of clusters to ensure proper utilisation of available water resources.

For value addition to the crops, provisions are being made for the development of various infrastructures like packaging, sorting and grading houses, cold chain stores and processing units.

Horticulture has become one of the major factors of development in the agriculture sector in the state. The horticulture sector is providing employment opportunities in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

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