Extend active handholding to Horticulture sector: Altaf Bukhari tells Banks

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JAMMU, MARCH 14: Minister for Finance, Education, Labour and Employment, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari today asked the financial institutions to extend active handholding to Agriculture and allied sectors especially Horticulture sector as it forms the backbone of the state’s economy.

Addressing the delegates at a seminar hosted by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to mark release of its “State Focus Paper- 2018-19”, the Minister asked the financial institutions and concerned departments to work in close coordination to overcome the challenges of farm sector, particularly the greater need being felt for micro-financing to support marginal and small farmers.

In its ‘State Focus Paper’, NABARD has prepared potential Linked Credit Plans (PLPs) for all the 22 districts of the state mapping physical potential along with credit assessment under developmental sectors with the main focus on the creation of infrastructure facilities, trends in sector-wise credit flow, schemes of state and centre. The theme of the 2018-019 State Focus Paper NABRAD is ‘Water conservation- per drop more crop’- one of the important components of ‘Doubling of Farmers’ Income by 2022”.

Taking a cue from the farm sector issues of J&K as highlighted in the Focus Paper, the Minister underlined the need for laying full focus on state government’s high-density plantation plan to bring about five-time increase in the horticulture production, besides other agriculture and allied sector schemes.

“The major issue raised in the focus Paper is far less than the national average farmers’ landholding in Jammu Kashmir, which can be addressed only by increasing production,” Altaf Bukhari said and asked the banks to meet the credit potential in the farm sector projected by NABARD. He asked the departments and Banks to evolve greater synergy to ensure effective implementation of schemes meant for rural economic growth. “Our greatest concern is well being of farmers, rural artisans, cattle and sheep rear as they form a major chunk of state’s population. The only solution to their problems is providing them effective handholding to boost production, provide market access and easy credit, the Minister asserted.

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The Minister also appreciated the contribution of NABRAD for providing funding not only for agriculture sector but also for the Area development projects in J&K.

“Creation of infrastructure facilities at grass root level is an important requirement for economic growth and I appreciate NABARD for its contribution in this area,” he said.

Earlier, Chief General Manager, NABARD Vijay Kumar gave a detailed resume of national rural bank’s activities in Jammu and Kashmir in area development, agriculture and its allied sectors. He said that under its water conservation campaign, NABARD has covered 2065 villages in 10 districts of Jammu and Kashmir.  He said the promotion of farmers’ collectives including Farmers’ Clubs and Farmers’ Producer Organizations is another initiative towards doubling the Farmers’ income. “These FPOs would ensure aggregation of produce and better remunerative prices for farmers,” he said.

Principal Secretary Finance, Naveen K Choudhary, Secretary Animal Husbandry, Raj Kumar Bhagat, Secretary Horticulture, Manzoor Ahmed Lone, Vice President JKB Rakesh Gandotra, state government officials, representatives of Banks, NGOs and farmers organizations were also present at the event.

No: PR/DI/18/11745/