To boost crop diversification and motivate farmers to shift towards horticulture, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today gave the go-ahead for integrated horti-forestry models for planting clonal- eucalyptus and poplar plants along with sweet oranges.
Chairing a meeting with top officials of the Horticulture Department here, the Chief Minister asked Additional Chief Secretary (Horticulture) Himmat Singh to bring a formal proposal in this regard, which would be implemented in letter and spirit.
He directed the ACS (Horticulture) to make the programme time-bound so that the entire schedule of plantation based on inter-cropping models is implemented in right earnest to promote horticulture in a big way, an official spokesman said.
The ACS (Horticulture) apprised Captain Amarinder that the proposed integration was not only in line with the broad objective of crop diversification but would also lead to environmental benefits to combat pollution and climate change, besides saving water.
It would also lead to income generation for farmers through sweet orange production for domestic consumption and exports.
The meeting was informed that these models had been developed for implementation in Kandi (submountainous) area and other parts of the state, he said.
The department further informed the meeting that package practices had been developed and validated both for agro- forestry species and sweet oranges, he said.
The proposed scheme would cover 160 hectares of sweet orange plantation and 6,000 hectares under agro-forestry during 2017-18.
For this purpose, 50 lakh Eucalyptus and Poplar clonal plants would be supplied to the farmers by the Forest Department as a pilot, to be further extended if found to be successful, he said.
It is also proposed to supply sweet orange plants free of cost under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yogan (RKVY), besides including drip irrigation for sweet orange cultivation under RKVY, he said.
As there was no income till the fourth year under Eucalyptus Model and highly reduced income from intercrops upto the sixth year under Poplar model, the scheme envisages that the government should take up with Punjab National Bank, under the sanctioned scheme of NABARD, to provide special incentive for drip irrigation, he said.
It was also proposed that the state government may consider enhancing its share of subsidy on drip irrigation from 35 per cent to 55 per cent along with 45 per cent centre subsidy, he said.
Giving details about year-wise plantation of sweet oranges in 5,000 hectares across the state in the next five years, the ACS (Horticulture) informed that 15,000 plants would be planted initially during 2017-18, 80,000 in 2018-19, 2 lakh in 2019-2020, 4 lakh in 2020-21 and 7 lakh in 2021-2022.