State to promote horticulture

Coverage will be increased by six lakh hectares over next three years

Speaking at the meeting of the State-Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) - Karnataka in Bangalore on Monday, Chief Secretary S V Ranganath said an action plan had been drawn to increase productivity of horticulture crops through technology transfer and also by active participation in the National Horticulture Mission.

At present, horticulture crops cover 14.8  per cent of the net cultivable area in the State and contribute 40 per cent of the agriculture income.

“We are expecting the best players to invest in horticulture during the Agri-Business Meet scheduled to be held in August this year. By focusing on horticulture, the State can achieve an overall sustained growth rate of 11 per cent”, the chief secretary said.

He pointed out that overall growth of the economy, in the previous years, had been weakened due to poor performance in the agriculture sector.

The State government’s two flagship programmes, Bhoo Chethana (soil enrichment programme) and Suvarna Bhoomi (to help improve the economic condition of 10 lakh small and marginal farmers in dry lands) would help in sustaining the five per cent growth rate in agriculture achieved last fiscal, he said.

He called upon the banking sector to take part actively in the State government’s endeavour.

SLBC chairman Basanth Seth urged Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) to speed up the process of achieving financial inclusion in all villages with a population of 2,000 and above.

“Against the target of 2,253 villages to be covered by March 2011, the banks in Karnataka have covered only 1,121 villages with a population of over 2,000 so far.

The shortfall in target relates mostly to RRBs, which are presently in the midst of migration to core banking solutions,” Seth said.

He said issues like connectivity, inadequacy of training and manpower at field level, delay in issue and activation of smart cards among others were the main reasons for the slow progress in achieving financial inclusion.

Products like savings bank accounts, remittances, entrepreneurial credit, micro insurance should be made available to each account holder under financial inclusion, Seth, who is also chairman and managing director of Syndicate Bank said.

RBI Regional Director Vijay Bhaskar said the regulator had identified nine villages in the State for adoption as model villages for financial inclusion and they would be showcased across the country to promote the novel concept.

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