THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The flood has literally opened the ‘floodgate’ of national and international
agencies, with multilateral funding agencies flocking to the state to assess the impact of the flood and lend a helping hand to rebuild flood-torn sectors.
Among the various proposals received, the state government is zeroing in on the assistance offered by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialised agency of the United Nations, for rebuilding the horticulture sector in the state.
According to Agriculture Minister VS Sunilkumar, the Agriculture Department has prepared a draft project to avail funding from the IFAD. As per the draft report, a project proposal of Rs 745 crore has been drafted with a contribution of Rs 500 crore from IFAD and the state would bear the remaining Rs 245 crore.
The draft project will be submitted to a committee headed by the Chief Secretary and once they have vetted the proposal, a detailed project report will be drafted with the cooperation of technical experts from the UN body and it will be submitted to the Centre for final approval. A senior officer privy to the matter told Express, the state will also bargain with the agency before finalising the interest rate for the loan they
At present, they suggest an interest rate of 4 to 6 per cent which has to be cut down to 2 to 3 per cent. “No agency would help us charging zero per cent interest for the loan, but certainly it is good for the state in the long run as the project is conceived with the vision of developing the sector in five years,” he said.
The department is planning the development of horticulture sector along with coconut sector under the project. The project also comprises planning of integrated agriculture in homesteads, financial assistance to flood-hit farmers, projects for agriculture services, agriculture infrastructure development projects, agriculture production and warehousing models in homesteads, revival of existing markets, arranging capital investment for running the markets, empowering agriculture production meetings, human resource developments (agro-service centre and agriculture action force), sustainable agriculture development by encouraging rural innovations, and promoting crops suited for homesteads, etc.
The flood damaged vegetables in around 10,859 ha in the state and the Horticulture Department and Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK) have also conceived a project to extend acreage
under cultivation of various crops such as hybrid vegetables, jackfruit, mango, tissue culture banana, pineapple, banana, strawberry, ginger, and turmeric.