‘Planning new, innovative measures to boost horticulture’

JAMMU: Minister for Horticulture Abdul Rehman Veeri Thursday said the government would initiate “new and innovative” measures to give “further boost” to the state’s horticulture sector.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly here for the demand of grants for the Horticulture Department, he said, “We want to see a robust post-harvesting infrastructural mechanism in place in our state, for which there is great need to increase the cold storage capacity for fresh fruits.”
He said the post-harvest management is being strengthened with the use of controlled-atmosphere stores, packaging and grading centers, and better marketing facilities.
“For this purpose, a provision of Rs 4 crore has been earmarked during the next fiscal,” he said.
The Minister said two Centers of Excellence—one each at Jammu and Srinagar—will be set up at an estimated cost of Rs 10 crore each.
To overcome the marketing challenges in horticulture and vegetable sector, he said the development of 36 fruit and vegetable markets is underway in a phased manner.
Veeri said the fruit and vegetable markets would also be provided with modern facilities “to further expand the marketing activities”, and to benefit the trade in “more systematic and professional” way.
Crop Insurance policy is one of the “reformative measures” that are in pipeline, he said, adding that three fruit crops—apple, cherry and mango—have been covered in the pilot stages of the policy.
The other measures include the plan for “rejuvenation of 50 years-old and senile orchards to boost the production by importing genetically-robust plant material from developed countries,” he said.
Veeri said the SK University of Agriculture Science and Technology has been approached to develop “innovative techniques” while “Mobile Labs” will also be set up for providing timely succour to the farmers.
For “immediate relief” to the farmers, the Minister said the government has announced waiver of 50 per cent KCC loans in case of small and vulnerable farmers in view of the crop loss suffered by them due to floods.
To ensure supply of quality pesticides and fertilizers to the farmers, he said government has taken steps by strengthening the enforcement wing and notifying 190 more Horticulture Development Officers as Insecticides Inspectors.
He said JKAGRO and JAKFED shall keep adequate stock of fertilizers during the lean period while many more companies dealing in fertilizers may be roped in for the supply of fertilizers in the state.
17 members took part in discussion on demand of grants. The House passed the grants by a voice vote.

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