At a time when vegetables continue to drive India's food inflation, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's budget on Friday tried to provide an antidote by enhancing allocation to increase production of horticulture and vegetable crops.
While the overall allocation under the segment was increased to Rs. 3,251 crore from Rs. 2,710 crore in 2011-12, Mukherjee also enhanced allocation for the National Horticulture Mission from Rs. 1,160 crore in 2011-12 to Rs. 1,360 crore.
The horticulture mission was launched in 2005-06 to double the production in cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, etc, and improve economic condition of the farmers by increasing exports.
Since then, there has been a marked improvement in the export of horticultural produce - export earnings have increased from Rs. 6,921 crore in 2004-05 to Rs. 13,423 crore in 2009-10.
Though there has been a considerable improvement in production of various horticulture commodities, experts stressed on the need to improve supply chain for these commodities.
Last year, to ease supply crunches that caused food prices to soar to 18.3%, the Centre had announced dedicated vegetable farm clusters for major cities and allocated Rs. 300 crore for the project.
India is the second-largest producer of vegetables, after China. Such fields occupy an area of 17.7 million hectares, producing 218.7 million tonnes of horticulture produce.