‘Contract farming in horticultural crops need promotion as there is a lot of scope for the agri-business and corporate sector to enter (the) horticulture sector in a big way and therefore the relevant act needs amendment favoring written and legal contracts between corporates and small farmers,’ according to a the ‘Impact Study of the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) in Karnataka.’
The study, conducted by professor Pramod Kumar, who heads the Agriculture Development and Rural Transformation Centre within the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), also found that post-harvest management was completely lacking in Karnataka, according to a media release highlighting the study’s findings.
Farmers are demanding ‘pack houses’ and ‘cold storage facilities’ owing to the ‘perishable nature of horticultural crops. They also want the state government to roll out a special subsidy to help them make the shift from field crops to horticultural crops, the report said. A majority of all horticultural crops, grapes being the exception, are sold without being processed, it said.
“Introducing specified subsidy for the area shifted from field to horticultural crops may lead to not only expansion in area under horticultural crops but also enhancement in employment opportunities as man-days employment is higher on horticultural crops compared to foodgrains and other commercial crops,” professor Parmod Kumar was quoted as saying in the media release.
The major achievement of the NHM in Karnataka is the addition of 1.82 lakh hectares in the horticulture sector during the XI plan (2007-2012), according to the report.
The report stressed the need for mechanization, to bring in efficiency and competence, post-harvest infrastructure and processing for better value addition to the horticultural products. More area needs to be brought under drip irrigation and rain water harvesting; and the addition of other micro irrigation systems need to be emphasized, the report said.
There is also need for the establishment of community seed banks with identification of genotypes, for specific agro climatic zones, as also the popularisation of integrated nutrient management; integrated pest management practices’ and rejuvenation and replacement of senile plants, the report said.
About half the farmers surveyed agreed that financial assistance through NHM, a centrally-sponsored scheme, was beneficial; but 90 percent of all households polled were not happy with infrastructure and capacity-building initiatives under the programme.
Around 60 per cent of the farmers expressed that NHM helped in increasing employment opportunities through expansion of area under horticulture, while majority of the households said their income increased after shifting to horticultural crops, the report noted.
The study dwells on research conducted across Karnataka, in the Bijapur, Bagalkot, Bangalore Rural and Tumkur districts. Small, marginal, SC/ST and women farmers growing grape, pomegranate, flowers, and aromatic and medicial crops were polled by the study.