Terming farmer as heart and trader mind of Horticulture sector, the Minister for Horticulture, Syed Basharat Bukhari, today said that the Government has undertaken a holistic programme for ensuring the equitable and sustainable development of horticulture sector in the State.
The Minister said this during his extensive tour to North Kashmir to review the functioning of the Horticulture Department.
Legislator Haji Abdul Rashid, Secretary Horticulture Mohammad Hussain Malik, Deputy Commissioner Baramulla Nisar Ahmad Naqash and other concerned officers accompanied the Minister.
The Minister said that the Government is committed to achieve the set objectives to enhance the production and productivity of quality horticulture produces in the State and with the adoption of high density plants the economic returns of farmers as well as State are sure to shoot up.
He appreciated the Horticulture Department for conducting census of fruit plants which was held after a gap of three decades. He said that it would help the Department to effectively focus on area expansion programmes, rejuvenation of old and senile orchards, implementation of plant protection measures, strengthening of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of farm mechanization, capacity building of orchardists, propagating quality plant material, conservation for establishment of Fruit Processing and CA Storage under Post Harvest Management.
Bukhari said that the Department is taking certain measures to draw forward-looking roadmaps through perspective planning for improving quality and production of Horticulture crops by integrated implementation of viable, eco-friendly, validated and refined technologies, besides preparing a visionary document in the form of a Horticulture Policy for next 30 years.
He said that the current year would be observed as the year of Apple and stressed for adopting multi-pronged approach for ensuring better yield and minimizing post harvest losses.
He directed for setting up of Fruit testing lab, toilet complex, canteen, besides submitting DPR for establishing CA store in Sopore Mandi and overhead water tank in its premises.
Earlier, the Minister kick started macadamization work at Sopore Fruit Mandi and interacted with members of Kashmir Fruit Growers and Dealers Association to enquire about broader issues and problems of them and assured them that all genuine issues shall be considered on priority and also taken up with the concerned quarters.
The Minister also visited Kupwara Fresh and dry Fruit Mandi and gave on spot directions for making it functional.
Legislator Bashir Ahmad Dar, Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Khalid Jahangir, Director Horticulture Kashmir Rafiq Ahmad, Director Planning and Marketing Horticulture Hafizullah Shah and various officials of concerned Departments accompanied the Minister.
While, interacting with growers and traders, the Minister said the Government is committed to expand the marketing activities for the fruit traders in every nook and corner of the State to improve their income strata. He said efforts are being made to procure the products of the farmers from their doorsteps. He hoped that the trading activities will receive boost in the area and people will get good return of their produces.
Describing Kupwara as horticulture rich place, the Minister said that the Government will explore uncovered areas and bring them under the ambit of horticulture cultivation. He directed the concerned for organizing awareness camps in-collaboration with J&K Bank and Tourism Department for the farmers at the block level to educate them about the horticulture and floriculture potential so that more and more people adopt these activities.
He also directed the concerned to deploy a team of experts to check infections affecting walnut crop in the area.
The Minister said that the Department is going to introduce fluorescent stickers for hassle-free transport of Fruit especially during winters.
Bukhari also inspected an orchard-cum-nursery at Chogul, Kupwara where he expressed satisfaction over the activities of the nursery and directed to explore possibilities for developing latest varieties of different fruits conducive in the Valley environment.
He took stock of Kiwi, Hazel nut, cherry, and strawberry, besides apple plantations and directed for identification of suitable land for organic farming initially on trial bases.
Later, the Minister visited various high density plantation plots at Kupwara, Sopore and Model Hi-Tech Ultra High Density Project Pattan and directed concerned for frequent inspections and timely assistance to growers for healthy growth of these plants.
He also directed for opening a coffee shop and landscaping and beautifying Model Hi-Tech Ultra High Density Project Pattan for tourist attraction.