JAMMU: Kashmir Valley meets 90% apple requirement of Indias population and the turnover on account of fruit export has reached a level of Rs.4200.00 crores, Minister for Agriculture Production Ghulam Hassan Mir said today.
He said that Government has launched multipronged strategies to promote agriculture and its allied sectors on scientific lines. He said that agriculture being the backbone of States economy, all the resources are being pooled to give fillip to production and productivity.
Replying to the discussion on demand of grants of his department, the Minister said that the Department has shifted its focus from the cultivation of food grains to total diversification in agriculture produce.
The Minister said that high income generating crops like fruits, flowers, vegetables, medicinal plants and allied activities like sericulture have been incentivized and encouraged. He said this will increase agriculture income and help to generate gainful employment in farm sector.
Mir said that the present government has given special focus to this important sector by exempting tax on most of the agriculture inputs for the benefit of farmers. He said that to make agriculture and its allied sectors profitable, thrust has been given to introduction of latest agri-techniques and use of farm machinery in farm sector to lower the production cost. He said in this direction Kissan meals cum Farm machinery exhibition are being held at district level in first phase and now directions has been passed to conduct such melas at Panchayat level to make farmers aware about latest techniques and its utilization at their doorstep.
The Minister said that first time a mechanism has been adopted for close coordination between research and extension departments of SKUAST with agriculture and its allied sectors to percolate the benefit of new crop and fruit plant research to common farmers. He said that stress is being given to revival of indigenous varieties of the State, adding that SKUAST-K has launched a pilot project for Muskbudej and Kambad for its revival as it has huge market potential at national and international level. He said that steps are being taken to bring other indigenous varieties under this ambit.
With the strenuous efforts of agriculture department, Mir said Seed Replacement Rate (SRR) of the State has gone up over the last four years from 10% to 24.78% in Paddy and from 10.79% to 29.77% in wheat and efforts are on to reach the level of 33%, the national benchmark.
Saying that saffron is heritage cash crop of the J&K, the Minister said that an ambitious National Mission for the rejuvenation of saffron in the State, with an investment of Rs.372.18 crores has been launched. It is expected that production of saffron would double in the State by the end of four years. He said under the mission more and more areas are being covered under the saffron cultivation and SKUAST-K has been asked to find the feasibility of other areas in valley where this heritage crop would be cultivated for boosting the rural economy.
Mir said that Department of Agriculture, Jammu has taken up market intervention for the last two years to prevent distress sale of their food-grains produce by farmers. He said Agriculture Department Jammu facilitated an all-time high procurement of 92,499.45 quintals of wheat grains and 36,118.95 qtls of paddy grains by FCI with the active involvement of the CAPD Department.
The Minister said the Chakroi Seed Multiplication Farm is being developed and upgraded at a cost of Rs.30 crores in Jammu Division for production of high quality Basmati seeds of traditional variety of R.S. Pura. Besides in order to further increase the production/ productivity of local Basmati variety of R.S. Pura, measures are also being taken under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes like Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Food Security Mission and Macro Management of Agriculture. So far an amount of Rs.11.5 crore stands utilized on this account, he added
The Minister said under Command Area Development, 16 projects are under execution in J&K State with total command area of 1,68,922 hectares, out of which 69,536 hectors have been covered by way of construction of field channels and field drains.
Saying that Sericulture continues to be a subsidiary occupation for rural families of the State, the Minister said annually 900 MTs of cocoon are being produced to generate an income of Rs.11.93 crore for silkworm rears. The income generation has shown an increase of 24% over the previous years.
Underlining the importance of Horticulture in boosting the rural economy, Mr. Mir said that there is a need to focus on infrastructure for post harvesting as it is only way to compete with international market. He said the State Government is providing funding for creation of post-harvest infrastructure.
The Minister said that Kashmir valley is proud to export 90% apple requirement of the countrys population and it is our duty to launch latest post-harvest projects under private and public sector to full fill the demand of the market which would help the growers as well. He said that three cold stores are functioning in valley and four more are in pipeline. He said that the turnover on account of export of fruits of the state has reached a level of Rs.4200.00 crores as on date.
Saying that there is tremendous demand of high-density fruit plants among the farmers, the Minister called upon all the legislators to motivate the educated youth of their respective areas for the development of high- density nurseries of fruit plants for which the horticulture department is providing incentives under various centrally sponsored schemes.
Underscoring the need to develop the floriculture on commercial lines, The Minister asked the youth to opt it as a profitability activity as the department has adopted commercial floriculture which include providing of financial and technical assistance and development of post-harvest facilities and marketing channels for the benefit of the growers.
He said sufficient progress has been made in cultivation of various kinds and varieties of cut flowers like Carnation, Lillium, Gladolus, Marigold and Tulip.
Mir said commercial floriculture is picking up fast in both the divisions of the State adding that the area under cultivation has increased to 350 hectares during 2012-13 with annual turnover of about Rs.14.50 crores.
Earlier, the Minister moved that a sum of Rs. 1151.97 crores be granted to the Government to defray the charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending March 31, 2014.
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