Budget Gives Big Push To  J&K Agri, Horticulture; Sericulture Sectors

A farmer sprinkles pesticides inside his vegetable field in the outskirts of Srinagar city. KO File Photo, Abid Bhat

Srinagar- The government is keen to revolutionize the agriculture, horticulture and sericulture sectors in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to give a major boost to the rural economy, officials said on Tuesday.

The plan was revealed by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman through the budget for the union territory for the financial year 2023-24, which was passed on Tuesday in the Lok Sabha.

The budget document, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer, reveals that the government will roll out holistic agriculture development plan, which will make horizontal change in the agriculture sector in J&K.

Under this plan, 29 projects have been approved with an outlay of Rs 5,012 crore over a period of next five years. “This will transform the agriculture economy of Jammu and Kashmir putting it on a new trajectory of growth, doubling the output of sectors, boosting exports and making the sectors sustainable and commercially viable,” the budget document reads.

It says that the government will create 18,861 new business enterprises over the period of next five years.

For Agriculture and Horticulture Sectors, an allocation of about Rs. 2526.74 crore has been made under Capital Expenditure for the year 2023-24 which is Rs. 1239.45 crore more than previous year’s budget allocation has been proposed by the government.

According to the government, the policy will herald a new phase of farming prosperity and rural livelihood security in Jammu and Kashmir and create additional job opportunities to 2,87,910 people in agriculture and allied sectors.

Under this holistic agriculture development plan; 67,000 Metric Ton Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage space will be created with a full value chain and aggregation network.

The budget document further notes that the honey production will be tripled and Cocoon production will be increased from 700 Metric Ton to 1,350 Metric Ton over the period of next five years.

Market-led production of food grains and high value crops will be grown in non-traditional areas.

“Farm power to be raised to 2.5 KW/hectare to minimize human drudgeries, reduction in cost of cultivation and ensure timely action and increase in production and productivity,” the budget proposes adding “The earnings from export of specialty products like Basmati, Rajmash, Kala Zeera, Mushk Budji, Saffron and honey will also increase,”

The area under assured irrigation will also expand from 30% to 40%.

The gross cropped area will register a rise from present 11.34 lakh hectare to 12.50 lakh Hectare by way of increased cropping intensity (Double/Triple cropping), the budget claims.

“Production and post-harvest losses will be reduced from 20-25% to 15-18% through post-harvest management initiatives envisaged under various schemes,” it reads.

Assisting Cocoon Industry

The government said that they will be providing silk-worm seeds of improved races procured from National Silkworm Seed Organization (NSSO) to the farmers for conducting silkworm rearing. The seed to the farmers is supplied at highly subsidized rates by the department.

“200 Farmers to be provided rearing appliances to assist in rearing cocoons on scientific lines for increasing cocoon yield,” it said.

Further the government is likely to construct of Chawki & Rearing Centre for incubation of Silkworms

Strengthening Agricultural Market

The budget also proposes production of designer plants for promotion of High Density Plantation and Rejuvenation of Orchards.

The government is also working on strengthening Agricultural Marketing in Jammu and Kashmir by providing a platform to the growers for marketing of horticulture produce, buyer-seller linkages for direct contact for sale and purchase of horticulture produce and ensuring more profits to farmers/ growers.

Subsidy Support under the scheme PARVAZ for air transportation of perishable fruits like Cherry, Strawberry, Plum, Pear, Peach, Litchi and exotic/ organic vegetables.

It also plans to construct 2000 Metric Ton capacity cold stores at Narwal Jammu and 2,500 Metric Ton capacity cold stores at Mazbugh, Sopore.

The government will go for GI tagging of local produce to authenticate and promote fruits of the Union Territory.

The government said it will support the development of the High Density Plantation Nurseries Scheme in the public & private sector for increasing area under Mango and Citrus plantations in Hectare, Kiwi fruit plantations in Hectare, Apple, Walnut and Stone fruit plantations in Hectare.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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