Work on second horticulture transformation needed: Prof Chand

It is time that the state must start working on the second phase of horticultural transformation and development. Professor Ramesh Chand, Member Niti Aayog, GOI expressed these views during the 39th Foundation Day of Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni held on Friday.

Speaking on the occasion Prof Chand said that Himachal has benefitted from the horticulture-led growth which is also reflected through several social parameters where the state has done well nationally. However, it is now time for the state to move towards the second phase of horticultural development and suggested that the model of Sikkim be studied where around 35 percent area is under horticulture. He added that the growth rate of horticulture in the state is a challenge that must be converted into an opportunity. 

Complimenting the university for its research initiatives in natural farming, Prof. Chand opined that the country has become self-sufficient in foodstuff and in the future we will have to explore markets to sell this extra agri produce. He opined that it is time that safe food production is maximized as the niche market is growing and even if we convert 10 percent area into natural farming, there will be no threat to the food security of the country. He added that an alternative solution is good but the process must be gradual and scientifically backed. Prof. Chand said that the university will have an important role to play in the generation of scientific data on natural farming.  

He urged the university to work towards exploring possibilities for entrepreneurship opportunities for forestry graduates and develop different agri-horticulture models for the different situations of the state. He also stressed on the need to plan for the highly horticulture-saturated areas along with devising a plan for the areas with opportunities. Prof Chand also fondly recalled the over five years he spent as a scientist at the university.

RB Sinha, Senior Policy Advisor (Natural Resources) and Project Director GEF Green AG, FAO of the United Nations said that presently there is no data on the sustainable harvest of Minor Forest Produce and efforts must be made to generate this data by the university. He said that this data will be beneficial for training local communities for sustainable forest management. 

Sushil Singla, Principal Resident Commissioner of Himachal Government at New Delhi stressed on the need to sustain the food and nutritional security of the country. Lauding the work on natural farming, Singla suggested that the university must work toward harnessing carbon credits gained through this methodology.

Earlier, University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Rajeshwar Singh Chandel said that efforts of the university have now ensured that ‘Devbhoomi’ is now also called the ‘apple and fruit state’ of the country. He spoke about the different achievements of the university in the past year. Speaking about the natural farming initiatives of the university, he informed that the university will be starting UG and PG programmes on natural farming in the next academic session. Prof Chandel added that the curriculum on natural farming for NCERT students has also been completed.

The DR MR Thakur Memorial Scientist Award for Outstanding Contribution in Teaching and Research’ instituted in the memory of Late Dr. MR Thakur, the first Vice Chancellor of the university was also given on the occasion. Dr. Rakesh Sharma, Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology won the award which carries a cash award of Rs 50,000 and a citation. A book on certificate course on Natural farming for UG and PG students was also released on the occasion. The university also gave away a cheque of Rs 3.26 lakh to Chaupal Natural Farmer Producer Company as the 1st installment towards the handholding of FPCs from UHF Nauni which has been recognized as a Producer Organization Promoting Institution by the NABARD and Agriculture Department. 

Prof KK Raina, earlier welcomed the Guests and informed about the activities carried out under NAHEP IDP. University Registrar Narender Chauhan delivered the vote of thanks. Floral tributes were also paid to Dr YS Parmar by the Chief Guest and university officers. A laboratory cum training center of Natural farming built at a cost of Rs 27 lakh was also inaugurated on the occasion.  The university statutory officers, retired teachers and staff, progressive farmers and students were present on the occasion. 

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