The Maharashtra government will actively promote the branding and marketing of oranges, one of the state’s chief crops, agriculture minister Eknath Khadse announced in the assembly on Thursday.
Maharashtra is the country’s largest producer and exporter of oranges, contributing 40% to the country’s total production.
The government will now work on upgrading its quality, to push it further in the export market.
Special orange saplings will be cultivated under monitored conditions, for standardisation of the fruit under the Central government’s horticulture mission.
In a reply to a calling attention motion raised by BJP legislator Anil Bonde, Khadse said an integrated orange policy will be finalised soon, which will chart out the advertising, branding
and standardisation process of saplings, along with the processing and exporting of the fruit, which is not exploited to its potential.
About 1.21 lakh hectares of land in the state is used for orange cultivation and the total production exceeds 7 lakh tons annually, through two seasons. However, the recent unseasonal rain has hit the crop, this is likely to affect the production in 2015-16.
Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the government should set up polyhouses and greenhouses to create orange saplings of good quality and standards, which can grow in monitored conditions.
Agreeing to Vikhe-Patil’s suggestion, Khadse said the government has on ornage policy in place at present, but it stresses more on growing the fruit. “We will put together a new integrated policy that looks at a holistic way of promoting the state’s oranges in the country and worldwide,” he said.