Minister for Agriculture Production Ghulam Hassan Mir Friday said that Government has launched multi pronged strategies to promote agriculture and its allied sectors on scientific lines. He said that agriculture being the backbone of State’s economy, all the resources are being pooled to give fillip to production and productivity.
Replying to the discussion on demand of grants of his department, the Minister said that the Department has shifted its focus from the cultivation of food grains to total diversification in agriculture produce.
The Minister said that high income generating crops like fruits, flowers, vegetables, medicinal plants and allied activities like sericulture have been incentivized and encouraged. He said this will increase agriculture income and help to generate gainful employment in farm sector.
Mir said that the present Coalition Government has given special focus to this important sector by exempting tax on most of the agriculture inputs for the benefit of farmers. He said that to make agriculture and its allied sectors profitable, thrust has been given to introduction of latest agri-techniques and use of farm machinery in farm sector to lower the production cost. He said in this direction Kissan meals cum Farm machinery exhibition are being held at district level in first phase and now directions has been passed to conduct such melas at Panchayat level to make farmers aware about latest techniques and its utilization at their doorstep.
The Minister said that first time a mechanism has been adopted for close coordination between research and extension departments of SKUAST with agriculture and its allied sectors to percolate the benefit of new crop and fruit plant research to common farmers. He said that stress is being given to revival of indigenous varieties of the State, adding that SKUAST-K has launched a pilot project for Muskbudej and Kambad for its revival as it has huge market potential at national and international level. He said that steps are being taken to bring other indigenous varieties under this ambit.
With the strenuous efforts of agriculture department, Mir said Seed Replacement Rate (SRR) of the State has gone up over the last four years from 10 per cent to 24.78 per cent in Paddy and from 10.79 per cent to 29.77 per cent in wheat and efforts are on to reach the level of 33 per cent, the national benchmark.
Saying that saffron is heritage cash crop of the J&K, the Minister said that an ambitious National Mission for the rejuvenation of saffron in the State, with an investment of Rs.372.18 crores has been launched. It is expected that production of saffron would double in the State by the end of four years. He said under the mission more and more areas are being covered under the saffron cultivation and SKUAST-K has been asked to find the feasibility of other areas in valley where this heritage crop would be cultivated for boosting the rural economy.
Mir said that Department of Agriculture, Jammu has taken up market intervention for the last two years to prevent distress sale of their food-grains produce by farmers. He said Agriculture Department Jammu facilitated an all-time high procurement of 92,499.45 quintals of wheat grains and 36,118.95 qtls of paddy grains by FCI with the active involvement of the CAPD Department.