The Department of Horticulture, a pioneer in the development of horticulture crops and related activities in the country, has taken up various programmes worth over Rs. 751.18 crore during the year 2011-12. The total turnover in horticulture in the State is of the order of Rs. 2,000 crore, including revenue from exports.
Parks/nurseries are envisaged to be set up at Chickaballapur, Sirsi, Tumkur and Kannamangala and Mysore at a cost of Rs. 10 crore. A Rs. 25-crore coconut productivity improvement programme would be started with 50 per cent collaboration from farmers.
As much as 2.13 lakh hectares of land is under areca cultivation in the State and farmers owning 10,400 hectares were put to hardship due to the yellow leaf disease. Researches are on to help control the disease from spreading to neighbouring fields, and Rs. 2 crore had been set apart for the purpose.
Floriculture was growing and there was international demand for flowers grown over an area of 3,500 hectares across the State. With a view to encouraging floriculture, the Government had reduced power tariff for cold storages to Rs. 2 a unit, and the sector has been exempted from VAT.
It has been decided to set up a special zone on the outskirts of Bangalore city. A programme had been chalked out with an incentive to start an international flower auction centre. A Rs. 250-crore Suvarna Bhoomi Scheme had been implemented to rejuvenate small and marginal agricultural families and under this, each one of the 2,30,420 families had been paid Rs. 10,000.
According to a note by the department, 154.89 lakh tonnes of horticultural crops such as grapes, cashew, spices, gherkins and pomegranate were grown in an area of 19.67 lakh hectares and processed items were either sold in the domestic or exported markets. Karnataka stands first in the export of flowers and gherkins in the country with exports amounting to Rs. 50 crore and Rs. 300 crore, respectively.
Karnataka was leading other States as far as the implementation of the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) is concerned.
Of the total Rs. 125 crore the State received under the NHM during 2011-12, Rs. 66.58 crore had been disbursed among farmers. The area under fruits, flowers, spices, medicinal and cosmetics and other horticultural crops has been extended to 16,424 hectares. Organic farming in 6,623 hectares had been given subsidy. Financial help has been provided to 162 post-harvest maintenance units and 148 agricultural ponds.
Model nurseries, vegetable seed production, comprehensive nutrition maintenance, comprehensive pest control and effective cross-pollination through apiary and demonstrations for farmers are being taken up. With a view to paying subsidy directly to farmers, electronic clearance system has been adopted. A sum of Rs. 603 crore has been utilised for the purpose during the last five years.
Under the drip irrigation scheme, water has been provided to 27,295 hectares of land spending Rs. 125 crore during the year. Farmers taking up horticulture had been provided 75 per cent subsidy in all the districts.
Under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, a Rs. 145-crore action plan had been prepared and the zilla panchayats had approved works worth Rs. 34.74 crore and spent Rs. 1.9 crore for extending horticulture in 35,669 hectares. Horticultural colleges have been started in Mysore, Sirsi, Hiriyur and Koppal and the Horticultural University sanctioned Rs. 60 crore for 2011-12.
Under the National Agricultural Development Programme, flower auction centres were being set up at Tumkur, Davangere, Belgaum, Udupi and Sirsi, bio-centres in Shimoga and Bidar districts, mango development centres in Kolar and Chickaballapur districts.
Horti-clinics have been established for providing information and advice to farmers in 2010-11, and experts in agriculture and horticulture would be in direct touch with farmers engaged in scientific research in the field, so that they could share their experiences with others.
One State-level advisory centre and 28 district-level advisory centres have been set up during the year with a sanctioned amount of Rs. 3 crore. Apart from these, the Government has established Karnataka Mango Development Board and Karnataka State Horticultural Development Agency.
The Areca Research Centre at Sringeri for controlling yellow leaf disease had been provided a grant of Rs. 50 lakh.