SRINAGAR: Describing horticulture as one of the most viable income generating sectors for the farmers in India, GoI Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh Monday said that New Delhi was paying focused attention to further promote it and exploring possibilities to extend the activities in potential areas.
The Minister said that horticulture sector is playing pivotal role in boosting the economy of the country with dedicated efforts of scientists and farmers who are working in close coordination by adopting new techniques and hybrid varieties of fruits which have great market demand. The efforts are being made to woo the farmers to take up the new techniques, shifting to diversifications to enhance productivity to fetch more income and meeting the market demands.
The Minister made these remarks on the occasion of inaugural function of ‘Rising Kashmir- 2017’ an exhibition at Srinagar that was organized by Sansa Foundation at SKICC today. The objective for organizing the exhibition was to sensitize the people associated with the horticulture sector about the Central and State Governments policies and achievement.
Elaborating on horticulture potential and production in India, the Union Minister said that 286 Million Tonnes of horticulture products are being produced in India by using 15% of its total agriculture land thus contributing to 30 % of the total production cost. After China, India is the second largest producer of vegetables, and is leading in production of vegetables like peas, lady fingers, besides fruits like mango, banana, papaya, peach, pomegranate and citrus fruits. He said that India is the second largest producer of Brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower and onion, besides securing third position in the world for producing potato and tomato.
The minister further said that keeping in view the pressure on the agriculture land; the government has developed a well-knit strategy for increasing production by using micro irrigation, high density plants, quality seeds, restoration of the orchids and shifting to diversification and new technologies. In order to reduce post harvesting losses and support prices, Singh said that Union Government is stressing on efficient supply chain and marketing by connecting famers directly with marketing activities, mandies, evolving certain reforms and creating infrastructural facilities. In order to meet the deficiency of experts in horticulture sector, the Union Government is contemplating on Skill Development programmes.
Singh said that for the development of Horticulture sector and increasing horticulture production in country, the government has started ‘Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture’ (MIDH). In all the districts of the Jammu & Kashmir state, North East and Himalayan states, central sponsored scheme MIDH is being implemented since 2001-02. Under this prestigious programme, the funds are being provided to these States on the pattern of 90:10 ratio by central government. Under MIDH, the funds to the tune of Rs. 51.52 core including Central share have been earmarked for the Jammu and Kashmir for giving boost to the horticulture activities.
The Union Minister said that Jammu & Kashmir is known as an abode of fruits, dry fruits, saffron and honey across the world and termed the horticulture sector as back-bone of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy. He said the horticulture is the main source of earning livelihood for around 33 lakh population of the state. He said about 7 lakh families are directly or indirectly associated with horticulture sector in the Jammu and Kashmir and providing employment to over 23 lakh people. The state govt has declared horticulture as important sector and efforts are afoot for its further development. Nearly 20 per cent area of the state comes under horticulture sector, he maintained.
Referring to apple and walnut production in India, the Union Minister said that Jammu and Kashmir is the main producer, and out of total production of apple and walnut in India, 66 percent of apple and 90 per cent of walnut is produced in J&K and a trend of increase in percentage share is seen. He said that the State is declared as agriculture export zone for ‘apple and walnut’. In 2015-16, 136.54 thousand hectare area was under apple cultivation with 1672.72 thousand metric ton production, he said.
The Minister said that saffron production in Kashmir is unmatched and with a central government share of Rs 315.99 crore and a share of Rs 84.22 crore of state government, National Saffron Mission was started in 2010. He said that Union government is providing financial support to the state government from plantation to post harvesting support like processing, marketing etc. With the help of Food processing Ministry, a food processing plant has been established at Pulwama in Kashmir, said the Minister.
He said that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on November, 2015 had announced special package for Jammu and Kashmir, which includes Rs 500 crore for restoration of damaged horticulture sector. Under Prime Minister’s special package, a very high density plantation material and Jafari system is recommended which will further help the state in increasing apple production, the Minister maintained.
On the occasion, the Minister also went round the stalls established by different government departments of host and other States, corporations and evinced keen interest in them.