Chandigarh, July 20, 2013: In a significant initiative to train nearly one lac youth of the state as a part of its ambitious agriculture diversification programme, the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today okayed the state program for training of youth for self-employment in agriculture and allied activities.
This decision was taken by Badal while presiding over a meeting of the senior officers of the Horticulture and Agriculture department here at Chief Minister’s residence this morning.
The Chief Minister asked the Financial Commissioner Development (FCD) to work out the modalities for imparting training to the youth for enabling them to take up agriculture and allied activities like dairy, fisheries, mushroom, piggery, goatry, bee-keeping etc. as self-employed ventures.
Badal also asked the FCD to look into the ways and means for establishing the State board for promotion and development of bee-keeping in a mission mode and appoint a senior officer not below the rank of Joint/Additional Director of the Horticulture department as its mission director. The bee-keeping board as desired by CM would explore possibilities for the production, processing and marketing of the honey not only in the domestic market but also in the country and abroad.
He directed the FCD to seek vital inputs from the National Bee Board (NBB) for the constitution of state board in this regard and invite one of their members as technical expert to it. He also asked the horticulture department to prepare a directory of all the bee-keepers in the state so as to provide them training for the production and preservation of honey on scientific lines adding he said the data collected thus in the form of the directory could be utilised to extend support to the existing bee-keepers. The Director horticulture apprised Badal in the meeting that there were nearly 33,000 bee-keepers in the state at present, who had adopted bee-keeping as business adding the Chief Minister said that more bee-keepers should be encouraged to take up bee-keeping as an allied agriculture vocation and we should at least fix a target of one lac persons to be engaged in bee-keeping. This would motivate the persons to take up bee-keeping as gainful occupation but also strengthen the dwindling base of agriculture in the state. He also asked the horticulture department to tie up with the Markfed-Asia’s largest Cooperative network to provide assured marketing facilities to the bee-keepers under its premium brand ‘Sohna’.
The Chief Minister also gave nod to the action plan of Horticulture department of Rs. 75 crore for the year 2013-14 under National Horticulture Mission (NHM) as the state had already got Rs. 30 crore as first installment from GoI. Under the approved State program of horticulture, new orchards of high yielding varieties of fruits would be established besides setting up of three hi-tech nurseries, of two would be of kinnow and one of guava to provide the best quality and disease resistant plants of these fruits to the farmers. He also gave nod to establish Centre of excellence for treatment of Brackish Water at Bathinda at the cost of nearly Rs. 7 crore which would suggest remedies to the farmers for the treatment of brackish water especially in the waterlogged areas.
The Chief Minister asked the Director Horticulture to ensure the maintenance of orchards through keeping close supervision by the experts of department and PAU. He also underscored the need to focus on the post-harvest management and approved Rs. 21.30 crore for pack-houses, cold storages, refer vans and ripening chambers etc.
The FCD assured Badal that horticulture would be soon become a major thrust area after agriculture as the farmers have already realized the higher margin of profits in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and flowers as compare to traditional crops even on small holding.
Prominent amongst others who were attended in the meeting FCD Suresh Kumar, Special Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Gaggandip Singh Brar, Director Horticulture Lajwinder Singh Brar, Director Agriculture Dr. Mangal Singh Sandhu besides senior officers of the Mandi Board.