PAPMPORE: The Department of Agriculture led a delegation of insurance companies to various areas involved in saffron and apple cultivation so they could make an assessment and find ways to bring horticulture and saffron production under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
A national delegation of insurance companies, led by Senior Deputy General Manager (SDGM) Agricultural Insurance Company S S Saxena, visited Spice Park at Dusso Pampore in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district late Thursday evening.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that almost all the department’s functionaries accompanied the delegation of various insurance companies during the field visit.
“All through the detailed deliberations were made with high-profile representatives and top experts, including Vice Chancellor SKAUST-K, to bring these two sectors under the central scheme,” said the Joint Director Agriculture, Iqbal Chowdary, adding that the field visit to saffron producing areas was made in order to provide a helping hand to farmers who have suffered losses during the last few years.
The Joint Director Agriculture briefed the national team about the Spice Park being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs. 37.81 crore.
Speaking on the occasion, Chowdary also said the Park would not only help to revive the traditional saffron industry in the Valley but would also revolutionise the entire process of cultivation, production and marketing of saffron.
The delegation of insurance companies also visited Pampore saffron fields.
The delegation included Saxena, Chowdary, DGM Credits Sunil Kumar, senior consultant PMFBY S R Joshi, PRO SBI Nazia Sheikh, Director Meteorological Department Sonam Lotus, National Sample Survey Office Director Altaf Hussain Haji and other officials.
More than 20,000 families in over a hundred villages of Pampore are involved in cultivating saffron. The farmers have suffered huge losses both in Pampore and in other areas of Pulwama district over the past 10 years with the 2014 floods causing severe damage, for which they have been demanding compensation from the state government.
Instead of the funds, however, an untimely heavy snowfall arrived this winter, damaging as much as half the total crop and causing huge losses to saffron farmers at a time when the crop was ready to be harvested.
Farmers told Kashmir Reader that they have been demanding a crop insurance scheme from the government since many years.
Abdul Majid Wani, president of the Saffron Growers Association, told Kashmir Reader that the association members sent representations last week to higher officials including the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and the Chief Secretary to the J&K government.
He said that they have been assured compensation after assessment of the loss is complete.