SRINAGAR, JUNE 03: Emphasizing upon introduction of weather-based crop insurance scheme for all fruits, in particular apple, the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today directed the Horticulture Department to make a big push for popularizing high-quality fruit plants to enhance export of fruits from the State.
He observed that our orchards need a complete makeover so that both crop yield and quality of fruit match standard benchmarks.
The Chief Minister said this while chairing a high-level meeting of Horticulture Department, here today.
Minister for Horticulture, Haj & Auqaf, A. R. Veeri, Minister for Public Works, Gardens & Parks, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Minister for Finance, Dr. Haseeb A. Drabu, Minister for Agriculture Production, Ghulam Nabi Lone, Chief Secretary, Iqbal Khandey, Principal Secretary, Planning, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Commissioner / Secretary, Agriculture Production, M.A. Bukhari, VC SKUAST, Kashmir, and other senior officers of Horticulture and Agriculture Departments were present on the occasion.
Referring to the huge damage suffered by the Horticulture sector in last year’s floods, the Chief Minister said an effective mechanism has to be worked out for providing weather-based crop insurance, in particular to apple orchardists, so that some sort of financial security and risk cover is extended to them.
The Chief Minister was informed that the insurance scheme for fruit growers will first cater to the losses suffered on account of hailstorm. Under the new scheme, the Government expects to cover 70% of the total area under apple cultivation.
Mufti Sayeed directed the Horticulture Department to expedite the modalities for providing insurance cover to the fruit growers, who remain vulnerable to weather vagaries.
He also passed instructions for making assessment of damages to crops suffered due to hailstorm yesterday in Tral, Dachnipora, Shangus and Khuripora areas in Pulwama and Anantnag districts.
Along with Handicraft, Horticulture remains State’s main export oriented sector. However, the 2014 floods badly impacted the sector with losses assessed to the tune of Rs.1568 crore. The sector contributes 7-8 per cent to the State’s GDP.
In order to improve quality and boost exports from the State, Mufti Sayeed also issued directions for a new Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of C-grade apples and pear. To begin with, the MIS will be introduced in Sopore (Baramulla) and Shopian towns, the main apple-growing centres in Kashmir, and Ramnagar (Udhampur) and Rajouri that grow pear in a large quantity in Jammu Division, the Chief Minister was informed.
Calling upon the department to rejuvenate the senile orchards, the Chief Minister emphasized upon certification of fruit farmers who grow top grade apples. He directed experts from SKUAST to interact with fruit growers so that they take benefits from the initiatives launched in research and development.
He was informed that the Government has also proposed rejuvenation of 3350 ha of senile orchards, besides additional area expansion of 4601 ha under Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH). He was also briefed about the roadmap prepared to promote high-density plantation in the State.
The present average yield of apple, which is 10 MT per ha, has remained stagnant since 2007-08.
Stressing upon import of high-density fruit plants from Europe for propagation, the Chief Minister directed the department to ensure that disease-free plants are provided to fruit growers, only after these are quarantined and scientifically vegetated in the Government nurseries.
Asking the Department to focus on use of best practices and latest technologies in improving quality and yield of fruits, the Chief Minister said establishment of two Centres of Excellence in Horticulture sector under Indo-Dutch Action Plan will sensitize the fruit growers about high-quality plants, micro-irrigation, high-tech green house technology, tissue culture and weather forecasting.
Mufti Sayeed also stressed on undertaking regular awareness campaigns in all fruit-growing districts to make the farmers cognizant about the new practices and ways to improve quality and production.
While briefing the Chief Minister, Minister for Horticulture said two courses in Horticulture sector through Government-owned ITIs will be introduced soon to cater to the manpower requirement.
The Chief Minister was also informed about the project proposal for establishment of Model Villages for apple, mango, kinnow and apricot fruits in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh Divisions respectively.
With an annual income of Rs. 4,500 crore through export of 10 lakh tons of fresh and dry fruits last year, nearly 33 lakh people are directly and indirectly involved in the Horticulture sector.