Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sikkim eyes horticulture promotion

GANGTOK: Banking on the state’s potential in the sector, Sikkim has chalked out various plans to promote horticulture in the state. As part of this, district-level co-operative societies and an ad hoc state-level producers’ apex cooperative body for marketing various horticultural products have been set up. A decision to this effect was taken at a state-level growers’ meeting for horticultural producers organised by the department of horticulture and cash crops development. The meeting deliberated in detail the ways and means to get best deal for farmers, and also addressed problems and issues faced by them. Sikkim had always set an exemplary standard in agriculture and farming, which needed to be given even more impetus in order to meet the challenges of current market demands. Despite good production, the marketing of horticultural products in the state has not come up to expectation. The apex committee will focus on bringing new and innovative ideas for a solid marketing strategy outside of the State. The farmers were also advised to ensure quality production. The point was also made at the meeting that despite quality horticulture produce, farmers often incurred huge losses due to lack of proper marketing. According to the farmers, there were times when they had to sell their produce at almost zero profit. The need for cold storage facilities, setting up of outlets to market the produce within the state and outside it, and the need for a wider marketing network were also discussed at the meeting. The Sikkim government has set up a Rs 4-crore facility in the Greater Kailash area of New Delhi, with facilities such as cold storage rooms and a marketing outlet. However, the facility had not been able to function as expected and was running at a loss. It was decided that the facility in New Delhi would be leased out to a private organisation.