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Agricultural Department facilitates farmers in J&K

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MSP for Wheat fixed at Rs. 1925, 24 Procurement Centres functioning in Jammu Div

JAMMU: The current situation arising due to COVID-19 pandemic has affected every sphere of human activity across many countries in the world. From agriculture to manufacturing, from hospitality to small businesses, every sector has been impacted by the lockdown imposed to check the spread of the contagion.

In the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the lockdown coincided with the wheat harvesting season which had to be followed by the sowing of paddy.  It warranted timely measures by the Government to enable the farming community to cope up with harvesting, post-harvest management, storage and marketing of standing field and horticulture crops.

The UT Government as a follow up to the national level agro advisory by ICAR on farming issues came up with timely advisories to avoid field level contagion spread of Coronavirus in agrarian activities. The farmers were allowed to start farming activities after following all precautionary measures. The restart of farming activities was also necessary to ensure there is uninterrupted supply of essential commodities to the customers like food grains, vegetable, fruits etc. The advisory included maintaining social distancing, staggering the field operations, prefer mechanized operations, use of mask and ensure proper hand washing, sanitization of gunny bags or packaging material and ensure no rush at the markets.

The Department of Agriculture, Jammu has been working on war footing to facilitate the farming community in every possible way. Department has devised emergency strategy to cope up with the difficulties and problems being faced in Agriculture sector. It is actively involved in activities like adhering to COVID-19 guidelines while harvesting of Rabi Crops 2020, procurement of Rabi Produce, stocking and distribution of seeds for Kharif 2020 sowing, stocking and distribution of Chemical fertilizers and pesticides, restoration of Apiculture/polyhouse and mushroom related activity and distribution of Vegetable Seedlings etc. The department has also mobilized its extension staff for dissemination of relevant technical knowhow for the benefit of the farmers. It has appointed officers to look into the activities during lockdown period and also made all the offices at district, block and ground level functional to assist the farmers.

In Jammu province every year during wheat crop harvesting combine/rippers harvesting machines come from Punjab, but this time around the whole movement was suspended due to lockdown. The standing crops of farmers were lying idle waiting to be harvested. It was then that the Agriculture Department intervened and mechanized harvesting machines were allowed to enter into the UT to facilitate farmers. The farmers appreciated the efforts of the Government which saved their crops and they were able to harvest despite the shortage of field labour.

The Department has established a 24×7 Agri Facilitation Centre at Lakhanpur. 22 Agriculture Business Centres (ABCs) and Farm Machinery Banks are also operational. More than 50% harvesting of wheat has been achieved till date.

This is also the time when the farm harvests reaches the mandis (market yards) for assured procurement operations by designated government agencies. The Department in collaboration with FCI has set up various procurement centres for farmers produce. Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, K K Sharma on April 27, had inaugurated Wheat Procurement Centers at Kathua, Samba and Jammu. Around 24 wheat procurement centers have been opened to facilitate the procurement of wheat in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts. The purpose of opening up the procurement centers was to ensure that farmers may not have to sell their produce at less than MSP of Rs 1925 per quintal. The result of this effort is that farmers are getting either equal or more than MSP. The Advisor also conducted field visits to assess on ground activities in Marh and Mishriwala areas on April 25.

Principal Secretary Agriculture Production Department, Navin Kumar Choudhary on April 30, has also dedicated refrigerated vans to the farmers of Jammu, Kathua, Doda and Udhampur.

Director Agriculture Jammu informed that wheat harvesting is in progress and harvesting has completed over a total of 120000 hectare so far out of total target of 221000 hectares. Besides, stocking and distribution of seeds to the farmers is in progress through input agency of department including home delivery in hill areas maintaining social distancing. The quantity of seeds despatched to the districts include- Maize 7695.72 quintals, paddy 1380.69 quintals, Fodder 1113.90 quintals and pulses 277.60 quintals.

The Enforcement wing of the department is closely watching and facilitating the smooth movement and stocking of fertilizers for timely availability to the farmers. At present the stock position of fertilizers is- Urea 4102MTs, DAP 4736.60 MTs, MoP 668 MTs.¬ Sufficient quantity of PP chemicals are available in private sale centres as well as pesticide formulation units. Soil sampling and testing is in progress to issue timely nutrient status of soil/ fertilizer recommendation to the framers.

The Director Agriculture Jammu informed that 204206 Vegetable seedlings (All Vegetable) have been issued to the farmers during the current season. The seedlings have been raised under Naturally Ventilated Poly Green House (NVPGH) and JPAG farm Talab Tillo Jammu and distributed to 121 beneficiaries. Government has also requested farmers to avail subsidy/incentives on machinery for promoting mechanized sowing, transplanting, weeding, puddling operations in ensuing paddy crop season

In Apiculture (Bee Keeping) Scheme, 2.50 Quintals of honey has been extracted from departmental farms during the last three months. Department is facilitating hassle free movement of bee colonies from outside UT to their native places in coordination with the civil administration of different districts thereby preventing financial loss to the Bee Keepers of the UT.

Prime Minister on May 2 had convened a special meeting to discuss reforms in agriculture sector and other issues. The Prime Minister deliberated on ways to reform the agriculture sector with emphasis on agriculture marketing, access of farmers to institutional credit and freeing the sector of various restrictions with appropriate backing of statute. The focus was on making strategic interventions in the existing marketing eco system and bringing appropriate reforms in the context of rapid agriculture development.  The government is making efforts for doubling farmers’ income and various steps have been taken to facilitate the farmers.

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