AP Govt Woos Major Firms With Horti First Programme

Hyderabad, March 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
The Andhra Pradesh government has successfully attracted big players for contract farming through its Horti First programme, which aims at establishing direct contact with the corporate majors. As of now, about eight industry majors including HLL, ITC, Godrej, AV Thomas have initiated pilot projects for contract farming in the state.

More than 50,000 acres have been identified by leading companies to adopt to contract farming for horticultural produce, according to officials in horticulture department. HLL has, already, initiated the pilot project during the current year covering about 500 acres for tomatoes in Chittor district, while Rallis has identified about 1,500 acres for pomegranates in Anantapur and ITC is looking for organic mangoes in the state, a senior official engaged in the project said.

The state is looking for some more companies to adopt organic cultivation for the horticultural products, the officials said. This system helps the farmer to work for an assured income for his crop right from the sowing stage.

The Mumbai-based Foods & Inns is setting up a full-fledged unit at Chitoor for 1,000 mt papaya pulp and the company has already entered into an agreement with the farmers for about 500 acres. Similarly, many companies are setting up processing units for tomato, mango, guava across the state, the officials added.

Following are the contract farming projects initiated in the state: 1. Cadburys India in east and west Godavari districts for cocoa; 2. Godrej, Palmtech for oil palm; 3. BHC for vegetables in Chittor district; 4. Global Green in Mehboobnagar, Capricorn Foods Ltd in Chitoor for gherkins; 5. AV Thomas for marigold in Anantapur; and 6. Dabur for Indian gooseberry.

From its role, the department of horticulture provides support to the contract growers on priority basis. This includes provision of quality plant material on subsidy to contract growers; water and leaf analysis facility including 50 per cent subsidy on drip and sprinklers; provisioning of kisan credit cards and subsidise 50 per cent cost of EUREPGAP certification expenses.