SRINAGAR: The state intends to bring 1.68 lakh hectares of land under fruit and vegetable cultivation, Minister for Horticulture, Abdul Rehman Veeri, said Saturday.
“The government would exploit the huge potential of horticulture in Jammu division by bringing 1.68 lakh hectares of land under fruit and vegetable cultivation in a phased manner,” the Minister said while reviewing operations of the Horticulture Department at a meeting of officers in Jammu.
The Minister laid emphasis on promotion of “protective cultivation” in far flung areas of the division to help farmers get returns during winter season also.
“The field functionaries shall tap the huge horticulture potential available in the region and, under the Area Expansion Programme, bring more and more cultivable land under the high yielding plantation,” he said, asking them to strengthen the nurseries for producing quality plant material for farmers to get certified plant material at their doorstep.
“In an era of competitive market, quality control is a must and we have to focus on this vital area to maintain the credibility of the state’s horticulture produce,” the Minister said.
Veeri urged upon the authorities to be proactive and to synergize their efforts in order to carry out frequent farm visits and submit tour dairies to the Administrative Department on monthly basis.
He also stressed on the need to hold awareness camps at Panchayat level to “disseminate information and share their experience and expertise with the farmers”.
To overcome deficiency of manpower in the department, the Minister said the vacancies would be filled up on fast-track basis.
Veeri said the government will encourage farmers to grow high-quality fruit products.
“Horticulture is the mainstay of the state’s economy and all efforts will be made to promote this vital sector,” he added.
The Minister called for close coordination between Horticulture Department and SK University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) for the benefit of farmers.
He also underscored the need for maintaining quality control on pesticides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers, directing the concerned to “activate services of the enforcement wing for proper checking of pesticides in the market to prevent any selling of spurious pesticides harmful to the horticulture produce”.