Srinagar: The German Ambassador to India Dr. Martin Ney, visited apple orchards in Kashmir along with delegates from the German Embassy, GIZ, Bayer and the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) on Tuesday. The visit was initiated to understand the concerns faced by apple growers and to witness first-hand the on-ground activities carried out under the project.
Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh together account for 90% of Indias apple production, which stands at around 1.9 million tonnes annually. In Jammu and Kashmir, the fungal disease apple scab is a major issue for apple growers, while Himachal Pradesh faces the challenge of low productivity (approx. 4 tonnes/ha). The national productivity average for apples (approx. 6.1 tonnes/ha) has shown a downward trend over the last 3 years which is a cause of growing concern for apple growers.
To aid apple growers in Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Bayer and GIZ (Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit) established the AVID project (Apple Value Chain Interventions for Development) to improve the income of growers in selected districts in the two states, through better agronomic practices, value chain interventions and other innovations.
The delegation vistedthe Ambri apple research station where Prof. Dr.Nazeer Ahmed,Vice Chancellor, SKUAST, explained the joint initiative taken by Bayer, GIZ & SKUAST scientists to test the weather station linked RIMpro model for forecasting and monitoring apple scab which is a dreaded disease affecting apple crop in the Kashmir valley. Apple scab if not efficiently managed causes heavy economic loss to apple growers. Currently the RIMpro model is being tested at two locations viz. Phanu in South Kashmir and Wadura in North Kashmir. Aftervalidating the advisory to the apple growers based on RIMpro model for 2 years, it will be extended to more areas in the valley.
Later in the day, the delegation visited the SKUAST Shalimar campus, where Dr. NazeerAhmed shared information on the various research and development projects being undertaken to modernize apple cultivation in Kashmir. All stakeholders of the project are satisfied with the new partnership for innovation, as it will help in transforming apple cultivation in Kashmir.
The delegation also visited an apple orchard at the Arrihal village in South Kashmir, where Joerg Rehbein, Head of Bayer CropScience Indian Subcontinent, and the German Ambassador inaugurated an apple clinic. Apple growers in the area were invited to this demonstration to receive hands-on training in diagnosing techniques for diseases, insect pests, nutrient deficiencies and other problems for taking informed decisions. The importance of using appropriate safety equipment by growers during application of crop protection products was also addressed. This was followed by distribution of protective equipment to growers. This training farm in the Shopian district is the eleventh amongst a total of 30 apple clinics intending to reach at least 1,200 farmers in Jammu & Kashmir.
Speaking about the project, Stefan Schmid from GIZ said, The project is part of the ONE WORLD -No Hungerinitiativeof the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). An important element in this approach is partnerships for innovations, with the private sector and research institutions to reach the goal of improving the income of smallholders, having a positive impact on employment as well as contributing to food security.
Joerg Rehbein, Head of Bayer CropScience, Indian Subcontinent said, “Companies often need to establish broader partnerships to leverage each other’s strengths. At Bayer, we leverage our unique expertise through projects and partnerships such as this. We will in the future, focus even more on addressing specific local requirements in apple and in other crops, in order to aggressively target growth opportunities in a sustainable manner.”
The Bayer-GIZ project is also active in Himachal Pradesh, where at least 2,000 farmers will be trained in good practices to increase the apple production. The project will be implemented in 2016 and 2017 over 2 years.
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