BHUBANESWAR: Though the State Government never misses a chance to criticise the Centre for its alleged anti-Odisha decisions, Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Radha Mohan Singh on Friday advised the former to fully utilise Central funds meant for welfare of farmers.
Addressing a function to mark the World Coconut Day here, the Union Minister said the Centre had provided `54.45 crore to the State in 2015-16 to operationalise the Horticulture Mission. However, the State could not spend `4.15 crore, he said and hoped that the fund would be utilised in 2016-17.
Singh said the State will receive `49 crore from the Centre for the Mission and so far, `26.83 crore has been released. He said nearly a quarter of the Mission’s budget should be on the post harvest infrastructure management, especially to build the cold supply chain and link farmers’ produces directly to the market.
The National Horticulture Board has provided assistance of `6.5 crore during the last two years to develop horticulture in Odisha which includes important plans like development of green house, poly house and cold storage. Several cashew promotion units have been established in Odisha’s Koraput and Ganjam districts, he said and added that assistance for development of quality plant to create modern nursery seedlings has been provided.
Stating that National Horticulture Mission has been operational in Odisha under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), the Union Minister said the objective of the Mission is to promote overall development of bamboo and coconut plantation sectors through area-based regional strategies.
The Minister said so far, 9,720 coconut committees, 700 coconut producer federations and 61 producer companies have been formed across the country as part of the Centre’s initiative to promote coconut cultivation. In Odisha, coconut is a major crop and is cultivated in over 50,679 hectares and its production is 32.4 crore. The State produces 6,404 coconuts per hectare.
The Coconut Development Board contributes towards the growth of coconut industry, the Minister said and added that the Technology Mission on coconut under the Board has established 402 coconut processing units where 242 crore coconuts are processed per year.