Pesticide, fertiliser shops exempted from COVID lockdown

Keeping in view of the season when various kinds of pesticides and fertilisers are used in orchards, the authorities have exempted wholesale and retail shops dealing in fertiliser and pesticides in the J&K from COVID19 lockdown.

The development came after Director Horticulture Kashmir Ajaz Ahmad Bhat wrote to Principal Secretary Horticulture and Divisional Administration about inconvenience faced by farmers in finding pesticides and fertilisers for orchards.

In his communication to divisional administration, Bhat wrote that the Ministry of Home Affairs Government of India has categorised manufacturing and supply of agricultural inputs viz. pesticides, fertilisers, seeds, farm machinery as essential commodities.

“However, due to the restrictions in vogue, the farming community faces a lot of inconvenience to get the agricultural inputs as the same is reflected by the complaints received from different quarters of the Valley,” it reads.

It added that the timely availability of these inputs is of prime importance and any delay in the availability of inputs may result in “huge losses to the farmers like spread of diseases, low production etc.”

“Keeping in view the importance of timely availability of these inputs particularly pesticides and fertilisers, it is requested to kindly allow the opening of said outsells/shops during the lockdown period to avoid any loss to the farming community,” it added.

Later, the fresh guidelines on COVID19 containment issued by J&K State Executive Committee of Disaster Management said that all agricultural, horticultural and related activities shall be permitted in J&K.

Director Horticulture has asked farmers and orchardists to contact their respective Chief Horticulture officers for any assistance or contact on 0194-2311484.

The Horticulture sector plays an important role in J&K and contributes significantly to J&K’s economy and is a source of livelihood for a population of 33 lakh.

As per the official data, about seven lakh families are directly or indirectly involved and dependent on the horticulture sector.

J&K State has been declared as an ‘Agri Export Zone’ for apples and walnut.

Horticulture sector also provides jobs to other related trades such as fertiliser, pesticide and agriculture machinery traders and processing of fruits.

“Horticulture is one of the thrust areas and a number of programmes are being implemented, resulting in generating higher incomes in rural areas, thereby improving the quality of life in villages,” said an official.

Stressing on orchardists to follow the advisory, he said that a variety of horticultural products of J&K have earned world-wide fame because of its good quality and taste.