Rajasthan reinvents agricultural strategy by promoting innovative crops
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New Delhi: Rajasthan is reinventing its agricultural strategy by promoting innovative crops, state agriculture secretary Neelkamal Darbari said on Friday.
“We are concentrating on promoting high-value crops like pista, chia, olives, oranges and strawberries among farmers,” Darbari said, adding, “the state government has delisted fruits and vegetables from Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees, allowing farmers to sell it to any interested party.”
There are immense opportunities in these high-value crops, despite the challenges, the secretary said.
“Warehousing and post-harvest technology for crops like tomatoes are a problem and we are inviting private companies to invest in these facilities,” Darbari said on the sidelines of an event to invite agricultural investments in Rajasthan.
The list of new crops being promoted by Rajasthan is impressive. Quinoa, a pseudo cereal, which sells for a premium in the international market, is suited to the state owing to its tolerance of dry soil.
Rajasthan is also promoting olive cultivation under public-private partnership with help from Israel. Now seven varieties of olive are grown at different locations in the state.
Similarly, it is encouraging farmers to grow strawberries near Bassi in Jaipur, alongside promoting protected cultivation of capsicum and cherry tomatoes.
Also, farmers have taken up cultivation of exotic flowers like gladiolus, lilium, gerbera, rose and carnations in open fields as well as in the shade. Stevia, a natural alternative to sugar, is now grown in the state.
Considered a dry desert state, Rajasthan is, in fact, a leading grower of oilseeds and foodgrain. It is the largest producer of moth beans and third largest producer of pulses and wheat.
“Not many know that Rajasthan is the second largest producer of milk in the country,” said Pravesh Sharma, adviser to agriculture and food processing division at FICCI, a business lobby group.
“The state’s liberal policy will be attractive to those interested in investing in agriculture and the state is a pioneer in innovative land leasing policy that others can learn from,” Sharma told a gathering of industry leaders invited by the government and FICCI.