The National Horticulture Board will organise horticulture festivals in Gulf countries to promote export of Indian horticultural produce, said Minister of State for Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Prof. K. V. Thomas.

Speaking after inaugurating the four-day inter-state Horti fair, Sangam-2010, a horticulture festival exclusively to promote oranges, Prof. Thomas said organising horticulture festivals abroad will give direct exposure to the growers to know the requirements of foreign buyers.

Referring to the implementation of National Horticulture Mission (NHM) by states, the Minister said many states are taking time to implement the objectives of the programme as they need to learn and acquire various technologies.

“About Rs 1,200 crore have been earmarked for the states under NHM for the year 2009-10 out of which Rs 700 crore has been spent so far,” he said. He said the objective of the programme is to ensure appropriate returns to the growers.

Though southern states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka besides northern states of Punjab and Rajasthan are performing fairly better in implementing the NHM, the North-Eastern states and other states in the north are taking more time to progress, the Minister added.

He said the Ministry is in favour of organising more horticultural festivals across the nation to make the growers understand the demands of the market for commercial horticulture.

The ongoing fair, organised by the National Horticulture Board, is aimed to encourage the farmers to sell their produce directly to the consumer to increase their share in consumer price and also to improve linkages between producers, markers and consumers. By selling their produce directly, the middlemen can also be eliminated.

Orange varieties from the states of Sikkim, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, along with Maharashtra’s famous Nagpur oranges are on display and on sale.