Shimla/ November 26
New Zealand would be extending co-operation to Himachal Pradesh in strengthening the horticulture and agriculture sectors by providing expertise and technology transfers. This follows a meeting of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal with visiting high level official and business delegation headed by Minister of Primary Industries of New Zealand, David Carter at his official residence here on Monday.
Chief Minister welcomed the proposal of the New Zealand Government to collaborate with the State in technology transfer in the field of horticulture and agriculture sectors.
Dhumal said that horticulture was the major cash crop in the state and was contributing significantly towards state gross domestic product while agriculture had been the traditional avocation in the State as over 90 percent of the population was directly or indirectly dependant for their livelihood over agriculture.
He said mutual collaboration between the two countries would be beneficial to the state in the field of horticulture and agriculture sectors. He said that the State had only 4 to 9 MT per hectare of apple yield as compared to over 25 MT per hectare yield in New Zealand.
“The state would import quality and early variety root-stock of apple from New Zealand for multiplication in different laboratories in the state for further distribution amongst the horticulturists, “Chief Minister added.
Dhumal said that most of the horticulture and agricultural activities in the state were based upon rain fed irrigation compared to cent percent irrigation facilities in New Zealand. He said that the apple season in the State starts from July end and concludes by October end every year while in New Zealand the season starts in April and ends by June.
He said that possibilities could also be explored to meet the demand of fresh apple during off season in the state. He said that the state was keen to take benefit of the expertise in creating irrigation infrastructural facilities to the fruit growers and farmers so that dependence upon rains was minimized.
Chief Minister said that creating cold chain to preserve the fruit and vegetables grown in the state could also be beneficial with mutual cooperation between Himachal and New Zealand. He said that since apple crop was highly perishable commodity having limited shelf life and with the facilities of cold chain, the shelf life of the fruit and vegetables could be prolonged to fetch remunerative prices by marketing the same at appropriate time.
Dhumal said that fruit processing industry was another field where New Zealand could lend its support to the state so that instead of marketing the produce to distant markets the same were processed to produce value based products for marketing. He said that it would go a long way in generating employment and self employment to the growers within the state.
Minister of Primary Industries, New Zealand, Davit Carter apprised the Chief Minister of the possibilities of mutual cooperation between New Zealand and Himachal Pradesh in both sectors.