SHOPIAN, AUGUST 26: Minister for Horticulture, Hajj and Auqaf, Mr Abdul Rehman Veeri has said that Shopian would get a hi-tech Fruit Mandi at Aglar shortly for providing fruit growers a platform for selling their produce directly for better returns.
He said the state-of-the-art Fruit Mandi at Aglar would be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 37.70 crore. He said in this regard a project of Rs 5.58 crore has already been sanctioned and Rs 1.56 crore released by the Government. He said the Government would engage a reputed consultancy for formulation of the design for the Mandi.
Addressing fruit growers and traders of Shopian after taking stock of the Fruit Mandi site at Aglar, the Minister said adding the Mandi would be developed on 250 Kanals of land, having all modern facilities including cold-storage, grading and packaging unit, guest house and truck terminal. He said the Government would also utilize Rs 18 crore on the flood protection works of the Mandi situated on the banks of Rambiara River.
The existing Fruit Mandi in Shopian is spread over an area of 32 kanals of land, having 90 shop sites, 11 kiosks, 4 auction platforms and it does not cater to the needs of the local fruit growers and traders.
The Minister termed horticulture as bulwark of State’s economy adding that this sector provides significant succour to the development process and generation of employment for a large chunk of population directly and indirectly.
Mr Veeri said strengthening of this sector would result in strengthening of the economy of the State as a whole.
The Minister listed measures and packages the government had put in place to boost the horticulture sector and ameliorate the situation of people who are associated with it.
“The horticulture sector is responsible for generating substantial livelihood for people and strengthening the economy. It holds promise for investors,” the Minister said. He urged youth to venture into the sector under the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) programme, for which a package of incentives was available.
Veeri said that attention was required to be focused both on the production of quality horticulture produce and its proper export to the terminal markets ensuring substantial returns to the fruit growers. He said while fruit markets in the State need to be upgraded, the adequate transport facilities and regulation of exports to outside markets also requires priority attention.
The Minister called for facilitating quality pesticides and fertilizers to the orchardists emphasizing on popularizing modern techniques for enhancing fruit production and its scientific marketing.
The President Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Association, G. R. Wagey and President Jammu Fruit Association, Rajesh Gupta and the Presidents of various Fruit Markets of the Valley and Jammu briefed the Minister about various issues fruit industry is confronted with in the State.
The Minister said that the upcoming Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) will be first introduced in apple-growing Shopian and Sopore townships in Kashmir Valley.
He said the government will procure C-grade apples in the towns to ensure that only fine-quality apples are exported to the markets outside.
“Growers who register themselves with the government will be provided the incentive of insurance cover. Their produce will be branded to increase its demand in the market,” he said.
Stressing on the need to develop export-oriented horticulture sector, the Minister reiterated that the government would also introducing weather-based crop insurance policy to protect growers against the risk of losses. He said in this regard the negotiation is on with the Insurance Companies and Bank authorities.
He said high-yielding rootstocks are being imported from Europe to rejuvenate “our old orchards”, while Fruit Mandis would be upgraded to enhance export of fruits.
Member Legislative Assembly Shopian, Mr. Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, District Development Commissioner Shopian, Director Horticulture Kashmir, Joint Director, HP&M were among others accompanied by the Minister during the visit.