Vast scope for agri-business, corporate sector, says study

It seems the time has come for the government to promote contract farming. According to a study which assessed the impact of the National Horticultural Mission (NHM) in the State: “Contract farming in horticultural crops need promotion as there is a lot of scope for the agri-business and corporate sector to enter into the horticulture sector in a big way and therefore the relevant Act needs amendment favouring written and legal contract between the corporate and small farmers.”

The major achievement of the NHM in the State has been that 1.82 lakh hectares additional area was brought under horticulture during the11th Five-Year Plan (2007-2012), said the study titled, ‘Impact study of the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) in Karnataka’, conducted by Parmod Kumar, professor and head, Agriculture Development and Rural Transformation Centre, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore.

The study was conducted in Bijapur, Bagalkot, Bangalore Rural and Tumkur districts by interviewing a mix of small, marginal, SC, ST and women farmers growing grape, pomegranate, flower and aromatic and medicinal plants. “Requirement of a pack house and cold storage was expressed by most of the farmers given the perishable nature of horticultural produce, which are mostly sold by them without processing, except in the case of grapes,” it said.

Growth rate up

“Both area and yield growth rate accelerated after introduction of the NHM in the case of fruits but area growth declined for vegetables, while their yield growth rate accelerated,” says Parmod Kumar. “In the case of commercial flowers and medicinal crops, while area growth increased, yield growth declined.”

The report found that growth in the area and yield declined in case of aromatic crops. Altogether, the NHM seemed to have overall positive effect on the horticultural crops as area growth increased from 0.8 per cent during the period before NHM to 2.7 per cent after the scheme was launched. Similarly, the yield growth turned positive from minus 4.1 per cent per annum.

Short on infrastructure

About 90 per cent of the households under study were not happy with infrastructure and capacity-building initiatives under the NHM. Around 60 per cent of the farmers said the NHM helped increase employment opportunities through expansion of area under horticulture, while the majority of the households said their income increased after shifting to horticultural crops, the study said.

Prof. Kumar said the farmers also called for a special subsidy for shifting their area from field crops to horticultural crops.

  • 60 per cent of those interviewed said the NHM helped increase employment opportunities

  • Majority of households said their income increased after shifting to horticultural crops