Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has stressed on the need to enhance the allocation for Horticulture sector in view of its contribution to the State economy besides involvement of a large chunk of population with the trade.
Chairing a meeting to review the implementation of various schemes in Horticulture here today, the Chief Minister flagged interventions which are critical for the growth of the industry. She said raising more allied infrastructure, introduction of high yielding varieties, good connectivity to orchards to cut down the overhead costs, availability of cold chain and good marketing are the areas which need to be given thrust to take Horticulture industry to a level where it can optimally tap the fruit requirement at the national level.
Minister for Horticulture, Syed Basharat Bukhari; Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb A Drabu and Minister of State for Horticulture, PriyaSethi were present in the meeting. Mehbooba Mufti underscored the need for introduction of high yielding varieties in view of their high yielding capacity by gradual phasing out of old orchards. For this, she advised the concerned Departments to adopt a joint mechanism with which the farmers could be incentivized and persuaded to take up plantation of new varieties.
Chief Minister also underscored the need for connecting fruit orchards to main highways to cut down the overhead cost of inputs and produce. She asked for dovetailing schemes of MGNREGA, Horticulture, NABARD and other agencies for raising facilities of good roads touching orchards, better irrigation facilities and availability of quality material to farmers. She also laid emphasis on developing terminal facilities of cold storage and better carrying capacity to take the fruit to terminal mandies at the appropriate time.
Mehbooba Mufti also reviewed the progress on the High-Density Apple plantation, walnut industry and the village specific fruit schemes launched last year. She directed converging Apple Year campaign with tourism campaigns to make apple industry of state another attraction for visitors.
The meeting was informed that Jammu & Kashmir produces around 18 lac metric tonnes of fruit which constitutes roughly 70% of national fruit production and it generates some seven crore mandays of work annually, highest by any sector of economy. However, the meeting was informed that, at present there are facilities like C A stores etc. for retaining some 90 thousand metric tonnes of fruit only in the State and the same need to be enhanced.
The meeting was also informed that Mango, Orange and Anardana villages have been set up in Kathua, Reasi and Ramban districts over a cost of Rs. 10.59 crore. Chief Secretary, B B Vyas; Principal Secretary, Finance, Navin Choudhary; Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Rohit Kansal; Vice Chairman, JKHPMC, Abdul Salam Reshi; Secretary, Horticulture, Manzoor Ahmad Lone; Director, Horticulture, Jammu/Kashmir besides other officers were also present in the meeting.