JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir government has initiated a vital programme to support its farmers and promote sustainable agriculture in the Union Territory.
With a growing concern for health and an increasing demand for organic food, the government is investing in a project that will boost organic food production and increase economic returns for farmers in the UT. This is a part of the government’s larger efforts to create a safer, cleaner and more sustainable environment for agriculture and food production in the region.
The government has kept a budget of Rs 84 crore to support the program over the next five years. This initiative is part of a larger effort to promote sustainable agriculture, commercial agriculture and healthy food production. The project envisages creation of over 12600 jobs and 300 enterprises in the organic agri-sector.
The program included a range of interventions to support organic farming such as expanding organic cultivation in a cluster approach, producing and recycling bio-inputs, facilitating certification and marketing and providing training and capacity building for farmers. The project aims to create six to seven organic clusters per district, covering a total of 2000 hectare of land. Additionally, it aims to convert another 2000 hectare into organic production, including niche crops and default organic areas. The program will also provide training to 10,000 farmer families in organic farming and establish 200 commercial and 3000 low-cost vermicompost units and 100 Integrated Organic Farming System Units. Besides, two Bio-Input Production Units will also be set up to supply organic inputs for the production clusters.
“The project will have a number of positive outcomes which will further fuel growth in organic production within J&K, including development of trained manpower and a package of practices suited to the region, dedicated bio-input production facilities, certification and branding facilities and an organic value/market chain.”, said Atal Dulloo, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Agriculture Production Department.
“J&K has a number of remote areas where very little chemical use is being undertaken in Agriculture. Moreover, the farmers in these areas are usually marginal and economically weak. By promoting organic cultivation, the livelihood of these farmers will be secured and their returns significantly improved.”, he added.
“Alternate Agriculture System for Sustainability” is one among the 29 projects, which were approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration after being recommended by the UT Level Apex Committee for holistic development of Agriculture and allied sectors in UT of J&K. The prestigious committee is being headed by Dr Mangala Rai, Former DG ICAR and has other luminaries in the field of Agriculture, Planning, Statistics and Administration like Ashok Dalwai, CEO NRAA, Dr. P. K Joshi, Secretary, NAAS, Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Horticulture Commissioner MOA & FW, Dr. H. S Gupta, Former Director, IARI, Atal Dulloo, ACS, Agriculture Production Department apart from the Vice Chancellors of the twin Agriculture Universities of the UT.
One of the main goals of the project is to expand the area under certified organic cultivation to 4000 hectares, involving 10,000 farmer families. The program aims to promote organic farming and provide farmers with knowledge about organic input production and resource recycling, as well as help them obtain certification for their produce, fetching a premium price in the process. The program will also help build the capacity of scientists, extension workers, and farmers.
The program will garner support from a number of stakeholders including participatory farmers, certification organizations such as NCOF, APEDA, NPOP and PKVY, organic entrepreneurs for bio-input production and SHG/FPOs/CIGs for effective marketing.
In a nutshell, the project on Alternate Agriculture System launched by the J&K government is a major step forward in promoting sustainable agriculture and supporting the economic well-being of farmers in the region. By promoting organic farming and creating a value chain for organic produce, the program will not only help create a clean and safe production ecosystem, but also make a significant contribution to the state’s GDP. This project is expected to bring about a major transformation in the agriculture sector in J&K, providing farmers with a sustainable source of livelihood for years to come.