Famous Apple continues to lead fruit production in the State with 64% of the total produce, followed by walnut and almonds.
This was stated at a review meet on the Horticulture sector presided over by Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in Jammu on Tuesday.
Stressing upon the need to shift to commercial farming to increase fruit production, the Chief Minister said the Government will offer a package of incentives to the growers for improving the quality and volume of production in the State.
“Our potential in exports is far greater than the Rs 4500 crore we have earned last year by exporting 10 lakh tons of fresh and dry fruits,” he stated.
Equating the potential of horticulture sector with that of the tourism sector, the Chief Minister said there is a need to properly implement the market intervention scheme to help facilitate growers to sell their produce with improved returns. He said the Government will continue to procure C-grade apples from the growers so that the best quality apple is exported into the markets,” he stated.
Emphasizing upon the need for promoting high-density orcharding with facility of micro-irrigation to arrest the fall in apple production, Sayeed called for adopting best practices in vogue in fruit farming to tap the potential of the horticulture sector in the State.
Mufti Sayeed also asked the department to take immediate necessary steps to get certification for declaring walnut, almonds, apricots and Ladakh vegetables as produce of organic farming. “This will ensure far higher returns than what we are getting today for these fruits,” he said.
Describing development of horticulture sector as the prime focus of the Government, Mufti Sayeed said since old plantations are leading to falling yields in apple production, there was a need to shift to high-density orcharding in a time-bound manner for which stocks can be imported from the European countries.
“To begin with, the Chief Minister said, the department should choose five to seven locations for micro-irrigation / sprinkling so as to encourage people towards high-density orcharding,” an official statement quoting CM said.
Mufti Sayeed emphasized upon the need for standardizing quality control and proper packaging of the produce to meet international benchmarks in fruit marketing. He said the results of the experiments undertaken in Agricultural Universities should show results on the ground and not remain confined to research only.
“The department should identify areas which have potential for commercial farming which will provide huge economic gains in national and overseas markets,” he added.
Expressing concern over low-yield of fruit produce in Jammu division, the Chief Minister directed the department to find out reasons and suggest ways and measures for improving the production.
“The Government will offer incentives to fruit growers for commercial farming of mangoes, litchi, walnut, apples and apricot in Jammu division. There should be better coordination between the department and SKUAST to encourage growers to shift to commercial farming for better economic returns,” the Chief Minister said.