KL News Network
Terming horticulture as the backbone of State’s economy, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today exuded confidence that the sector has the potential to get the socio economic profile of Jammu & Kashmir change for better. She said the Government is taking a slew of measures to further incentivize this industry and address growers’ concerns.
Addressing a largely atteded gathering of fruit growers and progressive farmers here today after formally launching the High Density Apple Plantation Scheme, the Chief Minister said with a huge market demand and massive scope for potential realization, Horticulture industry has the capacity to change the fortunes of not only the farming community but the entire State with its cascading benefits. She said it is a matter of satisfaction that horticulture industry sustained the economy of the State, much ahead of other sectors, during the last three decades of difficult times.
Complimenting the growers on the launch of the scheme today, Mehbooba Mufti hoped that they would positively reciprocate the Government’s efforts to rejuvenate this sector on scientific lines. She said with the adoption of these high density plants the economic returns of farmers are sure to shoot up. She said under the scheme 50% subsidy would be provided by the Government to the farmers and mega mandies and CA stores would be set up in the State, at Jablipora in Anantnag and Aglar in Pulwama in first stage, besides establishment of e-markets for the online sale of the produce. Additionally, she said, the Khadi & Village Industries Board has launched a scheme under which 40 % subsidy would be provided for setting up of cardboard fruit box manufacturing units.
The Chief Minister said already the Government has launched a Market Intervention Scheme to stabilize the rates of apple produce and benefit growers. She said a network of mandies is being laid to maximize direct interface between growers and buyers.
The Chief Minister asked the J&K Bank authorities to slash down further the interest rates on the credit to be given to farmers under the scheme. She also asked the JK Bank for maximizing the outreach of the scheme by the network of its branches and also use its Khidmat Centres for popularizing the scheme among the farmers.
The Chief Minister directed the Horticulture Department to pace up the setting up of fruit mandies and CA stores as envisioned in the scheme. She announced that the current year would be observed as the year of Apple to position the fruit industry in the mainstream of the State’s economic discourse. She also suggested publicizing the scheme more and more among the grower community to address their concerns and persuade them accordingly.
In a significant announcement, Mehbooba Mufti directed slapping of Public Safety Act against the dealers found conclusively involved in adulteration or selling of spurious pesticides and fungicides in the State. She assured the growers that her Government has flagged their concerns on priority and steps are being taken to address them properly.
Minister for Education, Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari in his address impressed upon the growers to come forward and take full benefits of the scheme. He said the scheme, once implemented fully, would revolutionize the horticulture industry in the State. He asked the growers to avail the facilities from the experts of SKUAST and Departmental functionaries to boost their produce.
Earlier, Secretary, Horticulture Department, M H Malik gave out the broad outline of the scheme. He said the High Density plants have a yield of 50-70 metric tonnes per hectare against 10-12 tonnes in case of conventional plants. He said the Chief Horticulture Officers and heads of respective branches of JK Bank have been designates as the authorities which can be approached regarding the scheme.
It may be recalled the High Density Apple Plantation Scheme was conceived by former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to give a push to the horticulture industry of the State and after a year’s hectic ground work the scheme was today formally launched by the Chief Minister.