The Punjab government would spend Rs 75 crore on the implementation of the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) programme in the state. Stating this on Monday, Lajwinder Singh Brar, director, horticulture department, said the mission had approved this grant for 2013-14, which would be spent on providing financial assistance to farmers, entrepreneurs, nursery owners as well as those interested in other horticulture-related fields as per NHM guidelines.
Brar said the department was taking concrete steps to create a horticulture-friendly atmosphere to bring the state out of the "rotten, vicious cycle" of wheat and paddy. He added that horticulture farming was not only environment-friendly but also very useful in saving groundwater. He said seminars, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, kisan melas, horticulture shows and honey festivals would be hosted by the department at the state, district and block levels for the promotion of horticulture farming.
Brar said the grant approved by the NHM would be utilised for the production of seeds and distribution of vegetables, improving seed infrastructure for handling, processing, packing and storage, setting up nurseries, establishment of new gardens and expansion of area under fruits, mushrooms, flowers, spices and aromatic plants.
Brar said financial assistance would also be given for the creation of water resources in conjunction with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). He added that financial aid under protected cultivation would also be given for green houses, plastic mulching, shade net houses, plastic tunnels, anti-bird and poly houses.