Jammu and Kashmir News
SRINAGAR, SEPTEMBER 23: Minister for Horticulture, Mr Abdul Rehman Veeri Wednesday stressed need for proactive measures to increase horticulture production in the State and called for stepping up efforts to generate awareness among farmers about innovative and modern techniques.
More than 70 per cent people in the State are either directly or indirectly engaged in horticultural activities, contributing to the State’s economy in a big way, the Minister said and added that the Government shall do everything possible to safeguard their interests.
He urged fruit growers to shift to high-density orchards to enhance apple production, for greater economic returns. “Government will diversify horticulture by adopting newer techniques and best practices to survive the onslaught of emerging markets in and outside the country,”
The Horticulture Minister was addressing a well attended gathering of farmers and horticulture officers on the occasion of ‘Apple Day’ organized by the Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture (Indian Council of Agriculture Research) (CITH) at Rangreth, here.
Director, CITH, Dr. Nazir Ahmed, Director Horticulture Kashmir, Director Horticulture, Jammu, Chief Horticulture Officers, Horticulture Development Officers, Scientists of CITH and large number of progressive farmers from different parts of the State were present on the occasion.
Veeri said government is setting up a laboratory both in Kashmir and Jammu province for testing of pesticides besides soil testing laboratories will also be set up in every district in the State before March next year.
The minister said government won’t tolerate sale of sub standard pesticides and any such act shall be dealt with strictly.
Urging farmers and fruit growers to use high density plants, veeri assured them that he has set up a task force lead by Vice Chancellor SKUAST to test the new plants before using them in the state.
Veeri said government is trying to include damage by hail storm under insurance cover and added that “One of the insurance company’s has given a positive response about it, and soon we shall be able to include damage to orchards due to hail storm under insurance cover”.
Minister further said that the department is also setting up cold storage and grading facility in Anantnag, Shopian , Kulgam, Sopore , Baramulla and Pulwama in Private-Public partnership (PPP) mode.
Maintaining that awareness about newer methods and techniques is important to enhance productivity and to evolve new varieties, Minster said that farmers should take part in such awareness camps that are regularly organized by the Government and update themselves with latest techniques.
He appreciated the efforts of CITH for organizing such an informative session for the farmers, and asked the Institute to organize more such camps in different places in the State to educate farmers.
The Minister said that government is making concerted efforts to revitalize horticulture sector in the State by introducing high density apple and other fruit plants. He said government has also been exploring possibilities to set up fruit processing, cold storage and packaging units in fruit rich areas for better returns, quality and utilization of surplus. He called for larger participation of private players to contribute in setting up of cold storages units in horticulture rich areas for which the Government provides nearly 55 per cent subsidy. He said cold storages are a must for maintaining quality of fruit and enhancing their shelf life.
The Minister further said that the Government has also been contemplating to set up Walnut Board to promote production of the dry fruit.
Regarding marketing facilities, the Minister said that Government has strengthened the network of fruit markets and a good number of new markets have been established in the horticulture rich areas so that the farmers can sell and liquidate their products at their doorsteps.
He said the Government is ensuring all modern facilities in such markets. Kissan Ghars are also being set up at Jammu, Srinagar, Delhi and West Bengal for the growers. He asked the farmers to avail benefits of various centrally sponsored schemes, adding that State as well as Central Government are keen to develop this sector in a big way and there is no paucity of funds for promoting horticulture activities.
Asking CITH Scientists to share all vital information with regard to new techniques with the officers of the State Government, the Minister maintained that this is important for realizing the common goal. He said CITH and Horticulture Department should act as a bridge in mitigating problems of the farmers in the sector. He also asked scientists to redouble their efforts to introduce new varieties keeping in mind changing environment patterns.