Govt to consider reorganisation of Horticulture Dept

SRINAGAR: The government Saturday directed formation of a three-member committee that will prepare a proposal on reorganisation of the state’s Horticulture Department.
Chairing a high-level review meeting here, the Minister for Horticulture, Hajj and Auqaf, Abdul Rehman Veeri, directed the concerned authorities to constitute the committee, which will have to submit the proposal to the government within a week.
The Minister said horticulture sector is “backbone” of the state’s economy and “focused attention” will be given to its rejuvenation “in a big way”.
“Horticulture is a key component of state’s economy, which generates annual income of Rs 5,000 crore, sharing 7 per cent of GSDP of the state. About 33 lakh souls, comprising 7 lakh families, are directly involved with this sector,” he said.
“Horticulture tops the agenda of government headed by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.”
The Minister urged the functionaries of the department to be “proactive” and to “synergize” their efforts to ensure frequent farm visits.
He asked them to submit tour diaries to the Administrative Department on monthly basis.
He also directed them to hold awareness camps at the Panchayat level to disseminate information and share expertise with the orchardists.
Veeri directed the concerned officers to ensure proper testing of pesticides in the laboratories of SKUAST within a period of seven days.
“Prescribe only those pesticides which are tested in the laboratories for use in the orchards,” he said, promising stringent action against those found involved in sale of substandard pesticides.
To overcome the deficiency of manpower in the department, the Minister said the vacancies would be filled on fast track basis.
The meeting was attended by Vice Chancellor SKUAST Kashmir, Dr Tej Pratap Singh, Commissioner/Secretary Horticulture Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, Director Horticulture Kashmir, Director Horticulture Planning and Marketing, Director Law Enforcement, Managing Director HPM&C, and by the Valley’s Horticulture Officers.
The officials briefed the Minister about the activities of the department, informing that 2.35 lakh hectares are under fruit cultivation in Kashmir division, including 1.63 lakh hectares under fresh and 72,000 hectares under dry fruits.
The total fruit production was recorded at 13.54 lakh MT during 2014 despite the damages inflicted by September floods, they said.
More than Rs 1,311 lakh were expended under different schemes for the development of the horticulture sector, while an amount of Rs 7,743 lakh have been sanctioned by various financial institutions in favour of 6,683 orchardists during the period, they added.
The Minister, later, visited Hajj House Bemina and took stock of the situation that has arisen due to incessant rains.
He directed for immediate dewatering of the water in the premises of Hajj House and also directed concerned engineers to come up with a permanent drainage plan.