Already consulting New Zealand for the World Bank-funded Rs 1,000-crore horticulture development project, Himachal Pradesh will now approach the country for a hand in tackling issues concerning agriculture and its allied-sectors.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh has asked departments concerned to form a committee to shortlist the issues faced by agriculture, horticulture and dairy sectors and prepare a report.
The move came following a meeting between Singh and New Zealand special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen in the presence of horticulture minister Vidya Stokes at Oak Over, the CM’s official residence in Shimla on Wednesday. Several state officials were also present during the meeting.
New Zealand is already assisting the Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Produce Marketing Committee (HPMC), the nodal agency in the WB-funded horticulture development project.
Additional chief secretary, horticulture, Tarun Shridhar said the detailed project report for implementing the horticulture development project in association with the New Zealand government was almost ready and the state had already started importing the root-stock.
During the meeting, the chief minister also expressed the desire to partner with New Zealand to take advantage of its expertise in developing various sectors like horticulture, agriculture and dairy.
New Zealand is one of the highest apple-producing countries where per hectare apple production is 57 tonnes. Himachal, which contributes 90% of the total fruit production in the country, is also working on a plan to increase its apple production.
HPMC managing director-cum-project director JC Sharma said bids for the project would be invited from qualified agencies through international bidding process. New Zealand also expressed desire to work on the training part of people involved in the research and horticulture extension, employed in the department and universities.
MoU on the cards
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh said the emphasis of the government would be on diversification of stone fruits and rejuvenation of old apple orchards in which the technical know-how of New Zealand would play an important role. He said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be signed with the New Zealand government for implementation of the project early in the next year.
New Zealand willing to partner in education sector
New Zealand special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen said New Zealand had good research institutes and help would be extended to the state apple rejuvenation project. Mike also expressed the willingness of the New Zealand government to partner with the state in education sector as well.