1. The agricultural sector of Himachal Pradesh has adopted a diversification approach that demands for a focus on the production of off-season vegetables that include potato, ginger, soyabean, oilseeds, and pulses.
2. At present, about 70,000 hectare area constitutes vegetable production and the production level of those vegetables is more than 15 lakh tonne.
3. The farmers focus more upon generating the cash crops for more revenue earning as it suits the agro-climactic conditions in Himachal Pradesh.
4. The major areas under off-season vegetable and seeds production are Saproon Valley and Kandaghat in Solan district, Theog in Shimla district, Rajgarh in Sirmaur district, Bajoura in Kullu and Pattan Valley in Lahaul-Spiti district.
5. Shimla and Solan district has emerged as the leading growers of off season vegetables with use of high end technologies and high breed seeds in vegetable production.
6. Shimla, Solan, Sirmour, Kullu, Una and Kangra are the main districts of the state growing off- season vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower and tomato which fetch good prices to farmers.
7. Between April to June, cauliflower is grown in Theog and Matiyana areas of Shimla and tomato is grown in Solan district of the state.
Gaps in the Supply Chain:
1. Shelf life of vegetables is very less. It has to be taken out directly from farm to Market as there are no cold store facilities available for farmers.
2. The average land holding of farms area is less in this area so the production is fragmented. Lot of farmers have to join hands together to transport there product together and economically to Mandis.
3. Production does not reach directly to large Market like Delhi as there are problems in timely availability of Transport
4. Farmers have very less information on the current ongoing prices in local and national Mandis. He only knows the price when he reached the Mandi where he has no option apart from selling his production at whatever prices he gets.
5. Aside from changing production period, getting high price for vegetables requires sale in appropriate markets like Delhi in the case of tomato which need very good infrastructure for storage and transport.
6. Producing vegetables in off-season requires a lot of care and many specialized operations to protect the crop from adverse climatic effects and insect and pest attacks. Lack of storage and poor transport lead to almost 30% wastage.
7. Similarly, sales in the distant markets require timely picking, grading, packing and transport and related logistics. All these tasks constrain farmers to sell quickly rather than store, grade or process.
8. Quality hybrids, suited to agro-climatic conditions of the hills in case of tomato, bell pepper, cabbage and cauliflower are being produced but there is a lack of collaboration between private sector retailers and farmers due to which it is not reaching them at reasonable price round the year.
9. To maintain the seasonality and to lower the cost of production as well as to make cultivation of vegetables sustainable and eco-friendly, stress has been laid on developing varieties resistant to insect pests and diseases and other stresses like heat, cold, drought and high rainfall. This has resulted in higher cost to farmers which are not offset by attractive prices round the Year. A farmer depends upon prices decided by middlemen who are the main buyers of the produce.
10. In little area some large scale commercial production can be done in form of contract farming as there is availability of irrigation water. Since water is availability is scarce in some areas, the use of drip irrigation and proper watershed management should be followed. This will help in increasing the area under vegetable in the hills.
11. The efforts should be made to produce the seed of temperate vegetables, such as cabbage, European carrots, radish and garden beets as this part of the country is most suited for seed production of temperate vegetables. Therefore full advantage of these climatic conditions should be taken by developing cold stores in this area for this production.
12. Since the post-harvest losses in vegetables are quite high, there is need to develop suitable technology which could reduce the losses after harvest. This includes packaging, grading, storage and appropriate transport.
13. Heavy post-harvest losses to the tune of 25-30 percent are due to very poor post-harvest infrastructures on the aspects of post-harvest disease control, maturity standards and harvesting techniques, primary processing and on form waxing, availability of packaging cases and packaging material, pre-cooling, zero-energy cool chamber and cool chain, processing of underutilized vegetables and waste utilization.
14. This area has the huge potential for Export orientation and in the present scenario of globalization; the production of non-traditional export oriented vegetables such as asparagus, bell pepper, celery, baby corn, brussels’s sprout, broccoli and red cabbage can be promoted in this area among farmers. The demand of these vegetables exists in South East Asia and European countries. The cultivation of these vegetables can be very easily done outdoor in the hills. Therefore stress can laid on the cultivation of these vegetables.
15. There is a very less presence of large retailers and procurer in this area who brings in best industry practices and set standards for the international quality.
16. Very less effort made for giving special treatments to vegetables during storage, package, handling and transportation to maintain the quality standards as desired by APEDA.
17. Very poor links with Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) which can promote production of identified vegetables like onion, garlic, potato, okra, bitter gourd, chillies, asparagus, celery, sweet pepper and tomato for export. These vegetables are non -traditional and suited for products in the hills.