New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday expressed concern that imported fruits like apples and kiwis are posing a major challenge to domestic growers and emphasised the need to strengthen supply infrastructure to ensure locally produced fruits compete with imported ones.
He said that there is a need to implement the recommendations of the Saumitra Chaudhuri report on cold chain development for reducing post-harvest losses and improve farmer’s income.
"We need to attach importance to cold chain infrastructure and implement the recommendations of the Saumitra Chaudhuri report so that we can effectively compete with supply chain for imported apples, pears, grapes, kiwis and cherries which is posing a major challenge to domestic growers," Pawar said addressing the National Horticulture Conference.
Although there is a pan India market for kiwis from Arunachal Pradesh, cherries from Jammu and Kashmir, pears from Punjab and grapes from Maharashtra, government needs to address concerns of growers, from planting material to post harvest management and issues of logistics and price discovery.
Noting that the challenge before the government is to ensure adequate income to farmers, Pawar said, "The only way we can have equitable and inclusive growth is when small farmers can save enough to invest in newer production technologies. If we do not make farming remunerative, we will not be able to retain the interest of younger generation."
The targeted 4 percent farm growth could be achieved in 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) from high-value agriculture, of which horticulture is an important segment, he noted.
Stating that India has a long way to go in establishing a robust cold chain system from farm to fork, he asked his horticulture officials to look at some technologies relevant to India and identify more 'origin-destination routes' for movement of horticulture produce.


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