SIALKOT : Punjab Agriculture Department has evolved a three-year multi-pronged ‘Vegetable Enhancement’ plan costing Rs 410.87 million. Agriculture Department sources told APP here on Sunday that the proposed plan would be carried out in 18 districts of the province including Sialkot. The basic concept of the programme is to enhance the year round supply of essential vegetables on sustainable and affordable prices by promoting vegetable cultivation, reduction in post harvest losses and value addition for making the province self-reliant in vegetables. The increased produce of vegetables will not only help meet the demand on one hand but also fetch share in foreign exchange earning on other hand.

Under the plan , special attention will be focused on tomato, onion, potato and chilies crops for overcoming the shortage.
    Under the plan small processing units for value addition would also be established in main growing vegetable districts especially for preparation of paste, slice, jam, pickles, powder and dehydration of vegetables for its optimum use in the shortage period on cost sharing basis.
    Through proper transportation of vegetable produce a reasonable reduction in post harvest losses could be obtained. In order to lessen the losses a ‘Plastic Bucket Bank’ will be set up in project districts on 80-20 per cent (government-growers-retailer) cost sharing for safe transportation of vegetables from farm to markets and retailer outlets.
    The aim of setting up of “Plastic Bucket Bank” was to issue the buckets on cycle mode under which a farmer and retailer will take 10 buckets for safe transportation from farm to market.
     Under the plan , small processing units will also be provided to vegetable growers and businessman in project districts on 50 per cent cost sharing basis through balloting in a transparent way. Ten tomato paste, pulping units and 10 small processing units for onion, garlic and chilies paste preparation will be provided to top ten producing districts of the project, sources added.