A meeting was held here today under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry for exposure of Heads of Mission of Norway and Syria to the economic strengths and opportunities of Himachal Pradesh. The focus was on exchange of technical knowhow and promoting the specific interests of the State in the respective countries.Chief Secretary said that 90 percent population of the state resides in rural areas and was engaged in agriculture and horticulture activities. The State has large agro-ecological and bio-diversity having advantage for offseason cultivation and quality produce due to pollution free environment and natural farming. He said that there was a large scope for area expansion of cash crops in open as well as protected cultivation along with value addition and post harvest management.Shri Chawdhry said that there was big scope for exchange programme of experts for production and productivity enhancement of commercial crop along with setting up agro-based industries including spices. He said that Himachal was known as apple state of country and was heading towards cut flower state. The state needs co-operation for import of elite planting material, technical co-operation and capacity building of officers and farmers besides integrated post-harvest management.He said that there was a vast potential of tourism in Himachal and the state seek co-operation in development of tourism infrastructure, ropeways development, adventure tourism, civil aviation sector and setting up of model tourists village. He said that presently around two crore tourist visits Himachal every year and it was estimated that around eight to ten lakhs tourists were availing eco-tourism facilities. He said that there was eco-tourism potential of 66.56 lakhs tourists with eco-tourism value of Rs. 6,657 crores.
The Chief Secretary said that Himachal Pradesh also needs co-operation for investment in development of 31 eco-circuits and development of five eco-tourism hubs with investment of Rs. 1000 crore per hub. There was also need for liasoning between tour operators, joint event management and international marketing for mutual benefits.He said that topography of the state was suitable for health restoration and conducive for medicinal plants at all climatic zones. The scope for collaboration in Ayurveda sector was in sharing knowledge of AYUSH system, rejuvenate therapy, Panchkarma and Yoga.He said that Himachal was highest trout producing state of the country with 12765 metric tonne production having total value of Rs. 158 crore. The State was already collaborating with Norway in fisheries sector and Indo-Norwegian trout farming project was functional at trout farm Patlikuhl in Kullu district. He said that more such projects could be setup in other parts of the state with Norwegian collaboration.Indian Ambassador to Norway Krishan Kumar said that Norway was ahead in renewable energy, tourism, adventure tourism, ski resorts, civil aviation, tunneling and ropeways. He said that expertise of Norway could be utilized develop these sectors.Indian Ambassador to Syria Man Mohan Bhanot said that Syria had strong capability in food processing, agriculture research like mushroom, Ayurvedic products, pharmaceuticals and semi skilled workers. He said that Himachal could benefit from the opportunities available in these sectors.Later, both Ambassadors visited various places at Junga and Chail to see vegetable production units, water supply schemes and eco-tourism sites.Additional Chief Secretaries and Secretaries along with senior officers of different departments had detailed discussions with the Ambassadors.