Agriculture Land Will Not Be Given To Non-Residents: LG

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Srinagar: Amid widespread criticism over the new land laws introduced by government of India, Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Wednesday said that no agriculture land in Jammu and Kashmir will be alienated to non-residents but for industrial investment and employment opportunities, non-agricultural land would be optimally utilized.

Speaking on the launch of Market Intervention Scheme (MIS)-2020 for Apple here at Horticulture Complex, Raj Bagh here on Wednesday, Sinha assured that no agricultural land would be alienated to any non-residents of the Union Territory, an official spokesperson said.

However, for industrial investment and employment opportunities, LG said non-agricultural land would be optimally utilized.

He said that the LG observed that Horticulture is one of the priority sectors of J&K due to its unique agro-climatic diversity, which makes it ideal for varied cultivation.

“The Horticulture sector, in particular, has an immense growth potential and the J&K Government is making all out efforts to tap the potential in order to give a fillip to the socio-economic condition of all those who are associated with the sector and contribute to the betterment of livelihood of Apple Growers,” LG, as per official spokesperson said.

He said that the LG observed that the objective of the newly launched MIS is to facilitate the stakeholders by providing optimum prices to the growers in the region during the peculiar situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic.

“Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) is a great relief for apple growers. It will provide a comprehensive insurance cover against any obstacle thus helping in stabilizing the income of the Apple farmers”. The scheme was launched for the first time in the history of J&K during September-2019 and was widely appreciated by the growers across J&K and therefore, the Government agreed to extend it to this year also,” LG said, as per the official spokesperson.

He said that Sinha asserted that the scheme will make way for procurement of 12 Lakh MT of apples which will not only ensure profitability to the apple growers but at the same time, it will also create rural employment through supplementary services such as packaging, transportation etc.

“The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has also allowed NAFED to utilize Government Guarantee of Rs. 2,500 Crore. The losses, if any, to be incurred in this operation will be shared between the Central Government and UT administration of J&K on 50:50 basis,” the LG said.

“The Market Intervention Scheme will provide a valuable marketing platform to the growers, besides ensuring remuneration prices of apples and protect the Apple growers from making distress sale. NAFED is going to collect the apples from the growers and make the payment directly into the accounts of the growers through DBT. It will also address all issues related to marketing and transportation, in addition to providing optimum returns to apple growers, which will go a long way in expanding the horizon of this sector in J&K,” he added.

The official spokesperson further said that the LG asked MD NAFED to increase their investment in Horticulture infrastructure from proposed Rs 100 crore to Rs 500 crore to give a substantial push to the development of horticulture sector in J&K.

Horticulture-Agriculture is a major industry in the UT and around 70 percent of J&K’s population is connected with the sector. We had released an excess of Rs 680 crore for augmentation of Agriculture and Horticulture sectors so that better marketing and innovative farming techniques are incorporated by the producers. All the government’s efforts are aimed at increasing the income of farmers and fruit growers.

The official spokesperson said that LG also called upon the farmers to set up Controlled Atmosphere Storage Plants with the help of 50% subsidy provided by the UT government. He underlined the importance for linking the UT’s fruit and vegetable mandis to National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) Platform.

Speaking on the Prime Minister’s ambition on doubling the farmers’ income; the LG, as per official spokesperson laid special emphasis on promoting high density plantation of apples to increase the production in order to achieve three to four times returns for the growers.

“It is our goal to cover 355 hectares of land for high density apple plantation. We have also decided to convert another 1500 hectare land for high density apple plantation,” Sinha said.

“We have to become a market leader in the horticulture sector and the entire government machinery would ensure that the dream is fulfilled soon,” he added.

The LG, as per official spokesperson also said that promoting J&K’s Horticulture and Agriculture produce to the global platform; official stall of J&K will also be displayed in the upcoming Dubai Food festival.

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