Agriculture Minister addresses VAIGA-2023 event in Kerala

Shimla (QNN)

Value addition is key to unlocking  full potential of  agricultural products:  Prof. Chander Kumar

 Ensures Farmers maximum return and fair price for trade of agricultural products

A value chain is a series of activities that are involved in bringing a product from the farm to the consumer. This includes activities such as production, processing, marketing, and distribution. By developing a value chain, we can ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their products and that consumers have access to high-quality, locally grown food. The development of value chains in agriculture is essential and the need of the hour for improving the livelihoods of our farmers and promoting sustainable development.

This was stated by Agriculture Minister Prof. Chander Kumar while addressing VAIGA-2023 (Value Addition for Income Generation in Agriculture) event in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This event was dedicated to exploring the possibilities of agricultural development through value chain development. He said that as the Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Minister of Himachal Pradesh, he understands the significance of Agriculture for farmers and rural communities and the state government has taken several initiatives to promote value addition in the agricultural sector, such as setting up food processing units, creating grading & sorting facilities by providing financial assistance and training to farmers and entrepreneurs through various schemes. However, there is still a long way to go, and we need to work together to realize the full potential of our agricultural products.

He said that Himachal Pradesh is blessed with a favourable climate, rich soil, and abundant natural resources, making it an ideal place for producing a wide range of crops, including cereals, off season vegetables, fruits, pulses, millets and exotic vegetables.The state is also among the leading producers of apple and other temperate fruits such as apricot, cherry, peach, pear, plum in India and has a special place in the national market due to production of  these temperate fruits especially apple and other off-season vegetable crops particularly tomato, garlic and ginger. Himachal Pradesh is also known for the production of Mushrooms and its dispersal to Pan India from the town of Solan called as the ‘Mushroom City of India’, said the Agriculture Minister.

The Minister further said that Himachal is also famous for “Kangra Tea”   grown in the Kangra valley which is popular across the globe for its antioxidant properties and rich flavor and has been included in the prestigious list of Geographical Indicators since 2005. He said that Maize is one of the most widely cultivated crops in Himachal Pradesh, covering an area of 2.9 lakh hectares out of gross cultivated area of 9.44 lakh hectares, and producing around 7.62 lakh MT maize grains. Out of this production, around 5.20 lakh MT is surplus, which presents immense opportunities for value addition through processing for maize flour, corn starch, and corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, corn flakes, corn oil, poultry and animal feed and many more products.

Apart from maize, Himachal Pradesh is also known for its production of off-season vegetables owing to weather endowment, especially tomato, garlic, ginger, millets, pulses, chilies, capsicum, beans, cucumbers, and exotic vegetables of almost all types. The state covers around 85 thousand hectares of area and produces around 18.50 lakh MT of vegetables, said the Minister.

He said that Himachal Pradesh has initiated a natural farming initiative since 2018 to lower the input costs, improve soil health, reduce environmental pollution, and produce chemical-free healthy food for consumers. Today, out of 9.97 lakh farmers around 1.5 lakh farmers have started practicing natural farming on around 16684 hectare area and are getting promising results. By promoting natural farming, we can attract more consumers who are conscious of the risks of unhealthy food and are ready to pay more for chemical-free high-quality food from trusted sources. He said that we are also promoting organic farming in a big way and we are proud to say that Himachal Pradesh has continued its efforts in this area under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna through cluster approach. Our state has abundant natural resources, and we have been promoting organic farming practices that not only enhance the soil fertility but also promote health and well-being of the consumers.

The Minister said that the State Government is focusing on value addition by enhancing the quality, taste, and nutritional value of these crops through various methods such as grading, processing, packaging, ideal storage and transportation facilities like cold storage and refrigerated vans for perishable produce to strengthen supply chain and marketing. This not only adds value to the crops but also helps in increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities in the agro-processing sector.

 Chief Minister Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, Agriculture Minister Sikkim Lok Nath Sharma, Agriculture Minister Arunachal Pradesh Tage Taki and other senior leaders from various parts of the country also shared their views on the event.