Over 182,000 hectares of additional area have been brought under horticulture during the Eleventh Plan period (2007-2012) under the National Horticulture Mission (NHM).
However, while both the growth rate of area as well as the yield accelerated in the case of fruits, the area growth declined in case of vegetables. Despite a decline in the vegetable cultivation areas, the yield growth rate accelerated during the period, according to a recent study by the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) in Bangalore.
NHM is a centrally-sponsored scheme launched in the 10th five-year plan period in 2005-06 to promote holistic growth of the horticulture sector through an area-based regionally-differentiated strategy.
The study on the impact of the National Horticulture Mission in Karnataka, conducted by Parmod Kumar, Professor & Head, Agriculture Development and Rural Transformation Centre, ISEC, said both the areas as well as yield growth declined in the state in the case of commercial flowers and medicinal crops.
It also found that in case of aromatic crops, both the growth in areas covered and yield declined during the period.
“At the aggregate, NHM seems to have overall positive effect on the horticultural crops as area growth increased from 0.8% per during the period before NHM to 2.7% after the scheme was launched. Similarly, the yield growth turned positive from minus 4.1% per annum,” the report said.
The study was conducted in Bijapur, Bagalkot, Bangalore Rural and Tumkur districts of the state from among a mix of small, marginal, SC/ST and women farmers growing grape, pomegranate, flower and aromatic and medicinal crops.
About half of the farmers surveyed agreed that financial assistance through NHM was beneficial but about 90% the households under study were not happy with infrastructure and capacity-building initiatives under the programme.
According to the study, around 60% of the farmers said that NHM helped in increasing employment opportunities through expansion of area under horticulture. Majority of the households surveyed said they saw an increase in their income after shifting to horticultural crops.
The study said that there is a vast scope for agri-businesses and corporates to enter the horticulture sector in Karnataka. In order to further enhance the area and yield growth, the government needs to promote contract farming, it added.
“Contract farming in horticultural crops need promotion as there is a lot of scope for the agri-business and corporate sector to enter into horticulture sector in a big way and therefore relevant act needs amendment favouring written and legal contract between the corporate and small farmers,” the report added.