JAMMU: Minister for Agriculture Ghulam Hassan Mir Wednesday said that government has accorded focused attention to further strengthen the sector by evolving new and innovative measures.
For this purpose he said the government has earmarked a whooping Rs 100 crore for various agricultural projects under NABARD.
The Minister was replying to the Demand of Grants of Agriculture Production, Horticulture, and Floriculture Departments in the Legislative Assembly today.
The Minister said that enhancing production and productivity of food grains is the thrust area for the Government to make the State self-reliant and several measures have been taken by the government in this regard. He said seed replacement has been given special impetus so that the Government can provide quality seeds to the farmers, adding that the seed replacement rate which was earlier as minimal as 10 per cent has become more than the national average for wheat and oats, whileas for rice the seed replacement rate has increased to more than 25 per cent. The step is aimed to increase the productivity and to make the State self reliant in food items, he added. To make the agriculture sector more profitable and attractive for the youth of the State, the Minister said that efforts have already been made for mechanization in the sector to woo youth to adopt this sector as a profession. He said the younger generation is shying away from this profession and are mostly choosing the Government jobs, but agriculture is the richest sector which can bring more prosperity for the youth and they can contribute to the State in improving the economy as well. The advanced mechanization in agriculture and diversification of crops will be made another thrust area and farmers will be educated to adopt cash crops, he said.
Owing to the importance of this sector, the Minister said in the history of State agriculture, this sector has been kept totally tax free to facilitate the farmers community to infuse technological innovations for enhancing productivity. The Government has also taken important measures for making easy agriculture credit facility to the farmers at low interest rate at the time of need, he said and added that 4 lakh Kissan Credit Cards (KCCs) have been issued and an amount of Rs 1300 crore has been disbursed among the KCC holders during the current fiscal.
Highlighting the importance of Saffron, the Minister said that Jammu and Kashmir is the only State in the country which produces this precious commodity and to promote this sector the Government has launched an exclusive National Saffron Mission with an objective to introduce latest agriculture techniques for enhancing its quality production and marketability. This has helped the saffron growers to bring more areas under Saffron cultivation. On the development of horticulture sector, the Minister said that several initiatives have been taken by the Government during the past couple of years. He said to handle the post harvesting management; the Government has increased the cold storage capacity for the fresh fruits in the State. With the help of private players 20,000 tonnes capacity CA Store has been developed for the facility of fruit growers he said adding main fruit and vegetable markets have been upgraded with modern facilities.