Indo-Dutch centre of excellence for vegetables, flowers opens in Kerala

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (PTI) An Indo-Dutch centre of excellence (CoE) for vegetables and flowers has been opened in Kerala's Wayanad district, according to an official statement issued on Friday.

The centre will be organising activities such as open-field precision farming of vegetables and flowers, production and distribution of quality planting materials to farmers, and also training programmes for farmers, entrepreneurs, and extension officers in the first phase, it said.

'A tissue culture laboratory has been set up as part of the project for producing good quality planting materials. The centre will also explore possibilities in agri-horti tourism in the district. The idea is to transform Wayanad into a hub of floriculture,” the statement issued by the Indian Embassy at The Hague said.

The CoE is a showcase and knowledge repository of the best Dutch technical practices as relevant to the Indian context, it said.

It will be based in the Regional Agricultural Research Station of the Kerala Agricultural University at Ambalavayal in Wayanad district, according to the statement.

The CoE for vegetables and flowers was inaugurated on Thursday by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a virtual conclave, it said.

Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar presided over the function.

Speaking after inaugurating the CoE, Vijayan said the centre would help rejuvenate the agriculture sector in Kerala and will complement the many innovative technologies in floriculture and vegetable cultivation the Netherlands has developed, according to the statement.

Tomar said the centre will not only benefit Kerala but the entire nation.

'This centre will mainly showcase the technological achievements of the Netherlands by activities such as production and distribution of quality planting materials and seeds to farmers. It will showcase post-harvest handling, storage and marketing of produce for farmers. It will offer training programmes for officers for enhancing income of farmers. The inauguration of this centre has much relevance in the Indian context,' he said.

The centre was set up at a cost of Rs 13 crore provided by the central and state governments, and technical assistance from the Dutch government, the statement said.

This will be the second CoE being set up under the Indo-Dutch Joint Action Plan, it said.

The first CoE for vegetables in Baramati in Maharashtra opened in 2017.

In his keynote address, Jan-Kees Goet, Secretary General, Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, said that the Centers of Excellence are the backbone of the cooperation between the Dutch and the Indian government.

“Training farmers, and getting them acquainted with modern technology, will advance their position in the supply chain, to the benefit of the economy,” he said.

Goet also commended Ambassador of India to the Netherlands Venu Rajamony for his tireless efforts to seal the plans for the center and for being most active in advancing the interest of agricultural cooperation between the two countries, the statement said.

He also mentioned that among the whole of the diplomatic corps in The Hague, Rajamony has easily distinguished himself as the most enthusiastic promoter of agricultural relations and said that the ambassador has become a Center of Excellence in himself, it said.

Other dignitaries who participated in the function included V S Sunilkumar, Minister for Agriculture, Kerala, and Marten Van den Berg, Ambassador of the Netherlands to India.

This CoE is set up as part of the Indo-Dutch Action Plan and in follow up to the letter of intent signed by the ambassador of the Netherlands to India and the minister for agriculture, Kerala, during the occasion of the Royal visit of His Majesty, King of the Netherlands, to Kerala in October 2019, the statement added. PTI AKV ANB ANB