Union Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh has called for increased private partnership for creating post-harvest management and processing facilities for horticulture produce. Expressing concern over the loss of farm produce in the country, estimated about 40% of total produce, he said there is a need to adopt techniques, which can help reduce post-harvest losses, add value and improve quality of the products and make it available to the common man at reasonable prices.
Speaking at Global Conference and Exposition on Value Added Agriculture and Food Processing at Kochi, Singh said that with consistent efforts of the Government and active participation of the farmers in adopting innovative technologies, it has been possible to sustain the agriculture production over the years. Kerala, especially, has made significant progress in horticulture production, which has increased to 10.33 million tonnes in 2012-13 after the launching of National Horticulture Mission in the State in 2005-06. During the 12th Plan the State has got an amount of Rs. 444.03 crore from the Centre for the development of horticulture. He urged the State to create sound processing facilities for fruits like pineapple, enhance productivity of crops like pepper, cashew nut and coconut to be competitive in export market.
Singh further added that the State should take the advantage of Centre for Perishable Cargo set up at Kochi for furthering export potential of fruits and vegetables by increased production of horticulture produce in catchments area of Kochi International airport.
Radha Mohan Singh said the centre is aware of agro-potential of Kerala that is why ICAR has set up institutes for plantation crops, tuber crops, spices and fishing technology. Besides this, 14 Krishi Vigyan Kendra of ICAR are also working. The Centre is also giving financial support to three agriculture universities in the State.
The minister observed that farmers’ cooperatives should be strengthened in the States in view of small land holdings, and mechanized farming should be taken up at the cooperative level for stabilization and augmentation of produce. The State should provide policy support for this purpose. He also suggested that water harvesting should be taken up in the State through check- dam to utilize rainwater.
Expressing concern over shrinking land area under cashewnut cultivation in the State, he said efforts should be made to reverse the trend. He also said that loss of about 15-20% of fishes during transportation and handling should also be checked by adopting better post-harvest transport and management practices.