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J&K important region in country’s progress and development: Tomar

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Agri minister arrives in Srinagar, interacts with farmers, stakeholders

Srinagar: As  part of the  Government of India’s public outreach programme for Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and two Ministers of State held interactions with farmers, horticulturists, agriculture scientists and other stakeholders to get first-hand appraisals of welfare schemes and polices in the region, an official press release informed.

It said the minister was accompanied by his two deputies — Minister of State (MoS) for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Kailiash Choudhary, and MoS Sushri Shobha Karandlaje.

Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Farooq Khan, Additional Secretary of Agriculture & FW, Vivek Agarwal; Principal Secretary Agriculture & FW (J&K govt), Navin Choudhary; Joint Secretary Ministry of Agriculture & FW, Rajbir Singh; Managing Director NAFED, SK Chadda; Additional Secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, GoI, Satya Prakash; Director General Horticulture Kashmir, Aijaz A Bhat; Director Agriculture Kashmir, Choudhary Mohammad Iqbal and other concerned were also present during the occasion.

The Minister termed the region as an important part of the country in its progress while calling J&K as the “crown of India”. He said this region is shoulder-to-shoulder in the country’s progress and development towards self-reliance.

He made these remarks while interacting with farmers, apple growers and horticulturists at the Center of Excellence at Zawoora Srinagar.

The Minister was responding to farmers and growers who raised several issues during their interaction with the visiting ministers’ team. The issues the horticulturists flagged included absence of lending from other banks, start-up policy, Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for C-grade apple produce, Fasal Bima Yojana (crop insurance) for apples, etc.

According to the press release, counting the initiatives taken by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi since coming to power, Tomar said that numerous schemes have been implemented for farmers’ and growers’ welfare throughout the country and there is visible change on the ground also.

While complimenting the J&K administration and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, the minister said that due to certain problems the region had suffered on development front but with the untiring efforts of PM Modi, J&K is progressing and playing its part in the country’s progress.

“J&K team is doing well especially under LG Sinha’s leadership. Mr Sinha is a visionary leader and J&K people are fortunate to have such a leader for guidance,” he remarked.

Minister assured the farmers and growers from Kashmir that the Central government is with them in every respect and the coming days will see a “new and dynamic” J&K.

On the occasion, the minister also assured that the credit lending would be extended from other banks also.

Highlighting the government’s commitment towards marginal farmers, the minister said the government has taken many “revolutionary” steps for these farmers also where they can use all facilities, avail benefits of schemes and other farm mechanizations in doubling their income.

He said that the government will ensure that the farmers would be connected with hi-density infrastructure through Agri-Infrastructure funds.

The ministers also inspected center’s Laboratory-cum-Training Center where they were informed that the center has facilities for the production of high quality fruit plants, micro-irrigation, high-tech greenhouse technology, tissue culture labs, bio-control labs and weather forecasting station, besides facilities to analyze fruit diseases like scabies, leaf curl, brown rot, etc as well as training to the staff.

They were told about the latest technologies of greenhouse for multiplication and high-density apple orchards with the latest technology to enhance productivity.

The ministers also inspected walnut germplasm bank having different varieties of walnut.

The ministers also visited ICAR-Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture at Old Air Field, Ranrgeth here where Deputy Director CITH, AK Singh gave an overview of the center.

The visiting ministers were informed that temperate crops act as the backbone of the economy of the region by supporting around 10-12 lakh people and generating revenue of about Rs 13,000 crore annually.

It was given out that among the various crops, apple and walnut are the major temperate fruit crops accounting for about 75 percent of the total area and 65 percent of the temperate fruit production, respectively.

In India total apple production is approximately about 28 lakh MTs and of which 20 lakh MTs are produced from J&K, it was told.

Speaking on the occasion, Tomar said that there is a huge potential for intensification of apple orcharding system under HDP with new varieties having better colour, aroma, shelf-life, shape, etc., for better consumer acceptability and market demand.

He said that ICAR-CITH Srinagar has emerged as a technology hub in temperate horticulture crops and the number of farmers having touch with CITH is increasing day-by-day.

On the occasion, the ministers planted saplings of different fruit trees in the premises of ICAR-CIH.  The Agriculture minister also inaugurated Technology Park and inspected the varieties of different fruits put on display by the CITH viz apple, walnut, almond, chestnut, hazelnut, cherry, olive fruit, persimmon, Kashmiri Nakh, etc and other vegetable varieties.

The minister also inspected the blocks of different varieties of fruits and vegetables like apple, peach, walnut, cherry etc.

On the occasion, Tomar also e-inaugurated Gramin Krishi Mausum Sewa (GKMS) for facilitating farmers by issuing weather advisories.

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