As many as 38 private firms have shown interest to develop the farms

The Government has decided to develop State-owned horticultural farms under public-private partnership model to increase area as well as production under horticultural crops.

The Horticulture Department has set up 410 farms/nurseries spread out all over the State. Of these, 237 are under State sector and 173 in the district sector.

A top official in the Government told The Hindu that the department had invited Expression of Interest for comprehensive development of the horticultural farms. As many as 38 private firms had shown interest to develop farms on the PPP model. The Government would retain ownership of the farms and there was no financial implication to the State exchequer by following the PPP model, the official said.

The development of farms under the PPP initiative would spur the growth of horticultural production in the private sector also. Farmers would get quality saplings, seeds and nurseries which would help in an assured crop. Cultivation of horticultural crops in the government-owned farms/nurseries would motivate farmers to take up their commercial cultivation, the official said.

A plan had been prepared to expand the area under horticultural crops from the present 17 lakh hectares to 25 lakh hectares in the next four years. The horticultural sector accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the income in the agricultural sector in the State. The value of horticultural produce came to Rs. 8,400 crore a year.

The department has proposed to develop some of the horticultural farms as eco-parks and to transform them as tourist centres. The PPP model would help private entrepreneurs to utilise the best farm technologies for generation of revenue through appropriate horticultural practices, the official said.

He said Rs. 163.54 crore had been allocated to the State under the Centrally sponsored Horticulture Mission for 2009-10. The mission covers 24 districts and 16 crops.

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