Kochi: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Thursday called for increased private partnership for creating post-harvest management and processing facilities for horticulture produce.
The Minister also asked Kerala to create processing facilities for fruits like pineapple, enhance productivity of crops including pepper, cashewnut and coconut, to make them more competitive in export market.
To boost the export of fruits and vegetables, the state should take the advantage of Centre for Perishable Cargo set up at Kochi, he said in a inaugural address at the two-day Global Conference and Exposition on Value Added Agriculture and Food Processing at nearby Angamally.
Expressing concern over loss of farm produce in the country, estimated about 40 per cent of total produce, the Minister said there was an urgent need to adopt new techniques to cut post-harvest losses and improve quality of the products besides making them available to public at reasonable prices.
Calling upon the state to improve the fisheries sector, the Minister said the government is aiming for "Blue Revolution". "I feel by the next Budget, we will be able to bring about a Blue Revolution for fishermen and it is my wish that it starts from Kerala," he said.
The loss of about 15-20 per cent of fishes during transportation and handling should be checked by adopting better post-harvest practices, he added.
To improve the state agriculture sector, the Minister emphasised on the need to increase farm output by introducing high-yielding and climate-change resistant crops.
Farmers' cooperatives should be strengthened in the state in view of small land holdings and mechanised farming should be promoted for augmentation of produce, he said, adding that efforts should be made to increase the area under cashewnut cultivation.
Presiding over the function Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said, the state is encouraging agro-processing and allied sectors, and cited the example of 'Neera' - the sap of the coconut palm, which has huge commercial potential.
He also said the production of fruits and vegetables in the state has increased to 50 per cent of its total consumption, after introduction of vegetable development scheme.
The scheme has reduced the Kerala's dependence on these items from other states to some extent. The state consumes about 20 lakh tonnes of fruits and vegetables.
State Agricultural Minister, K P Mohanan, said Kerala was all set to switch over to completely organic agriculture by 2016. "Safe to eat organic products with a Kerala brand will be promoted through innovative marketing programs, plans and strategies," he said.
Speaking at the function, Alphonsus Stoelinga, Ambassador, Netherlands said that three centers of excellence in horticulture, fishery and dairy will be established in Kerala.