The Himachal Pradesh government would come up with a work plan to promote horticulture crops across the state, Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh Thakur said on Sunday.

Thakur said Horticulture has been a major contributor to the economy of the state due to the diverse climatic conditions and topography.

Himachal is capable of cultivating wide varieties of fruits and vegetables, besides more than 35 species of different fruits could be successfully grown in the state.

“To promote the fruit crops to boost farmers’ economy, the specialists will go to the field and prepare specific plans for different regions, keeping in view the agro-climatic conditions of the area. It will also be ensured that optimum survival of plants was achieved in the areas planned by the horticulture officers,” he said, adding that to achieve this goal, the Horticulture department would develop nurseries as per the demand of the farmers and according to the climatic conditions of the region.

The World Bank aided HP Horticulture Development Project of Rs 1134 crores is being implemented in the state. Fruit plants of apple, pear and walnut will be distributed among farmer clusters whereas 14,406 plants of mango, litchi, guava and citrus fruits have been sold amongst 28 subtropical clusters in the state under this project.

Further, training has been imparted to 58 officers under this project to upgrade their knowledge in the field of horticulture. Besides, international experts from New Zealand are also imparting training to 320 horticulture officers and 501 farmers, he added.

The Horticulture minister said the government has also effectively implemented Integrated Horticulture Mission in the state for integrated development of horticulture. Under the Mission, various activities such as plant nurseries, construction of water sources and increase in horticulture area, protective farming under greenhouse, organic farming, post-harvest management and food processing activities would be executed effectively.

Several projects are being implemented under National Agriculture Development Scheme for research and development of horticulture. The government is also laying special emphasis on providing an appropriate price of their produce to the horticulturists. Apple, mango and citrus fruits were being procured under the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) in the state.

Stress was also being laid on establishing fruit base processing units such as wine and cider to ensure remunerative prices to the farmers. He added the state government, with a view to increasing the fruit production in the state over the past few years, is working to upgrade and establish new cold storage stores and packing houses in the state. As many as 54 procurement centres would be opened in different parts of the state which would remain functional from 21 November 2019 to 15 February 2020.