SRINAGAR: Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Thursday inaugurated two-day long Apple Festival-2021 at SKICC, in presence of Union Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar (through virtual mode) & Union MoS Kailash Choudhary.
Addressing the farmers, the Lt Governor said that the UT administration is extending all possible support to the famers and introducing new reforms to make J&K a leading region in Horticulture and Agriculture production.
Recent heavy rain, hailstorm and snow affecting the crops have been declared a natural calamity and UT-specific disaster. Government will provide relief to all the farmers, who have suffered damages, the Lt Governor added.
Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare while addressing the gathering, said that the Apple of J&K contributes to 87 % of the national production with an annual production of more than 2.2 million metric tonnes, and is linked to the livelihood of about 30 % of the population of Jammu and Kashmir.
With collective efforts of agricultural scientists, government and all stakeholders, we will take the horticulture and agriculture sectors in J&K to new heights, said the Union Minister.
The Lt Governor highlighted the impact of the initiatives like Apple festival that brings farming community, scientists and buyers together.
Seller-Buyer meets, awareness and technical sessions during the two-day festival will bring all stakeholders to a common platform, he said.
Under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are making our best efforts for transforming Agriculture, Horticulture & Allied sectors, providing viable linkages to the Rs.10,000 cr apple market. The government is committed to ensure optimum returns to improve the lives of farmers of the UT. After decades, Apple Growers are getting the highest price for their produce, said the Lt Governor.
Despite producing around 90% of the country’s apples, this kind of apple festival is happening for the first time after 75 years of independence and I would like to congratulate the Horticulture Department for this initiative, the Lt Governor added.
The UT Government is paying special attention to High Density Plantation and Fungicides for quality and production of apple which has yielded excellent results this year, he observed.
I express my gratitude to the Union Agriculture Minister for taking initiatives to connect maximum farmers of J&K with High Density Plantation through Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, said the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor asked the famers to be aware of those who are spreading and creating illusions that people will lose their agricultural land. During the address of the Hon’ble Home Minister Amit Shah at SKICC just a few days ago, the people present there gave a befitting reply to those spreading such lies.
We are standing firmly with our farmers and have replaced the regressive laws with progressive reforms for the welfare of the people of J&K, the Lt Governor added.
Today, Jammu and Kashmir is at the fifth place in terms of farm income across the country. The multifold increase in the income of the farmers of the UT is the result of the government’s commitment to work for the betterment of the farming community, said the Lt Governor.
Jammu and Kashmir has been declared as ‘Agri Export Zone’ for Apple and Walnut for now, and other products will also be included in the coming days. It is the determination of the UT administration that no section of the society should remain away from the mainstream of development, said the Lt Governor.
We have started Integrated Dairy Development Scheme, Poultry Development Scheme and Integrated Sheep Development Scheme. In just 15 months, we have been able to start 1569 new dairy units, and in the next two years, we will become surplus UT instead of deficit in these sectors, the Lt Governor added.
Kailash Choudhary, Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare termed the day as historic for the farming community of the UT.
Along with Horticulture, every sector will be given dedicated focus. In the coming day, J&K will be amongst most prosperous, developed regions in the country, said the Union MoS.
Speaking on the occasion, Navin Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary to Government, Department of Agriculture Production & Farmers Welfare, highlighted various initiatives being taken by the department to give unprecedented push to the growth of Agriculture, Horticulture and Allied sectors.
Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, Director General Horticulture Kashmir presented the Vote of Thanks.
The Lt Governor felicitated progressive framers and handed over sanctioned subsidy letters to the beneficiaries. He also inspected around 45 stalls of apple and other horticulture produce & machinery installed by government departments and private players.
Informative booklets on Modified High Density Plantation Scheme and development of High Density Nurseries and Orchards- a leap towards progress and self-reliance in the Horticulture Department were also released on the occasion.
Prof JP Sharma, VC SKUAST-Kashmir; Dr Hina Shafi Bhatt, VC KVIB; Members of PHD Chamber of Commerce Kashmir, PARC, Cold Storage, J&K Fruits & Vegetable processing and Integrated Cold Chain Association, various Farmers and Growers Associations, besides large number of farmers were present on the occasion.