With an aim to boost economy and upgrading horticulture infrastructure, Secretary, Agriculture Production and Horticulture Department, Manzoor Ahmad Lone on Friday said that Jammu and Kashmir would soon have its own Horticulture Policy to tackle upcoming marketing challenges and increase the production manifold.
“Jammu and Kashmir Government will come up with its own Horticulture Policy, which will be focusing to increase production and tackling climate change, given the unique temperature of this place,” said Secretary, Agriculture Production and Horticulture Departments, Manzoor Ahmad Lone, while holding public grievance camp here.
“The policy has been drafted and it has gone for the comments to all the stakeholders. We are hopeful that we will soon have our own policy, which will be focusing on boosting economy and upgrading horticulture infrastructure,” Lone informed.
The proposed policy would suggest appropriate technological interventions human resource development to meet the national nutrition requirements, international competition and safeguard the interest of growers and increase in their income.
“Horticulture sector plays an important role in any region and contributes significantly to the region’s economy. In Jammu and Kashmir Horticulture is a source of livelihood for 33 lakh population. About seven lakh families are directly or indirectly involved and depend on the Horticulture sector,” he informed.
He said that Horticulture sector also provides jobs to other related trades such as fertilizer, pesticides, Agriculture machinery, traders and processing of fruits, etc.
He said that the Department of Horticulture Planning and Marketing provides timely market feedback and guide the fruit growers in marketing, handling of post-harvest operation/activities in order to face the market challenges.
“Horticulture development is one of the core areas and a number of programmes are being implemented, resulting in the generation of higher incomes in the rural areas, thereby improving the quality of life in villages,” he said.
“The growth of horticulture sector can be attributed to various initiatives taken by the Government including introduction of improved verities, mechanization, establishment of fruit mandies, Technological support, awareness research and extension programmes,” he said.
Lone said Government was taking every possible step to discourage mono-cropping across Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it doesn’t serve any purpose and growers and farmers too don’t get economically elevated and motivated to sustain in the sector. “I believe that we should discourage this mono-cropping as much as we can but at the same time we should provide some incentives to the farming fraternity,” he said. He said that Government was also encouraging local entrepreneurs to establish their own nurseries.
“Currently we have nearly 400 nurseries and National Horticulture Board has accredited 78 nurseries and the process continues in this his regard,” he said.
Lone said that the variety of horticultural products of Jammu and Kashmir has earned world-wide fame because of its good quality and taste. The fruit crops grown in the state are apple, almonds, walnuts, pears, cherries and apricots in temperate areas and mango, citrus, litchi, papaya, guava etc. in subtropical areas. Saffron cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir is unique in the world.
Lone informed that over the decades, the growth graph of Horticulture sector in Jammu and Kashmir has shown a tremendous spike with 10000 metric tons of production in 1950 to 25 lakh metric tons of production in 2020.
“We have still not reached to the optimal level. Government is working on every front to make this sector highly vibrant and self-sustaining for the farmers and growers,” he said.
He said that Policy will help the Government harness the horticulture potential. The committee will study how country’s GDP and economic rate will be after 30 years and whether we will be able to meet up the consumption level of the country, if no, what measures need to be taken,”
“This Policy would give us a way forward as to how we can aim at increasing horticulture revenue from current Rs 8000 to Rs 50000 crore a year,” he said, adding “The farmers will be educated on regular basis and they will be cultivating crops all the scientific research which will create impetus whenever we have to face any international competition,” he said.
Director Agriculture, Altaf Andrabi, Director Horticulture, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, among other senior officers departments were present during day-long public hearing camp.