In an important step towards the promotion of Horticulture produce of Jammu & Kashmir and to take it to the global market, the J&K Government today signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED), apex organization of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in the country, officials said.
The MoU with NAFED is seen as a game changer for the Horticulture sector in Jammu and Kashmir. High Density plantation of Apple, Walnut, Cherry, Flowers etc has potential to increase the income of farmers by 3 to 4 times, read an official statement.
After signing of the MoU, NAFED will cover 5500 Hectares at a cost of Rs.1700 Crore in the next five years with major focus on Apple, Walnut, Cherry, Pear and other significant horticulture produce. NAFED will also set up 20 Farmer-Producer Organizations, one in each district, in the next three months.
The NAFED will set up three cold storage clusters, one each in North Kashmir, South Kashmir and Kathua at a cost of Rs.500 Crore, besides ensuring Geographical Indications tags (GI Tags) for all premium/niche horticulture produce, branding and marketing of fruit crops like Apple, Walnut, Cherry, Olive, Litchi etc., added the statement.
In presence of Manoj Sinha, Lieutenant Governor, UT of J&K, the MoU was signed between Navin Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary to the Government, Agriculture and Horticulture Department, J&K and Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, Managing Director, NAFED.
Speaking on the occasion, the Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha observed that the J&K Government is tirelessly working on four issues that are being addressed on priority -Increasing productivity through intervention of technology; ensuring best price and market support; mitigation of risks, and diversification through allied activities.
The Lt Governor said that Horticulture produce of Jammu division will be given a major push for marketing and NAFED will also look into the possibility of high density plantation of Apple in Kishtwar and Bhaderwah.
“The UT Government will work with NAFED to promote horticulture produce and to set up a quality planting material lab. GI tagging of all premium horticulture produce and marketing is top priority of the administration. The investment in various areas to promote and market horticulture produce is being made for faster expansion. We intend to increase Cold Storage capacity, identify and promote horticulture produce of Jammu division to ensure better price to farmers,” the Lt Governor said.
As per the MoU, NAFED with J&K Government will create post-harvest infrastructure for agriculture/horticulture crops in the form of Cold Atmosphere Stores, Grading and Processing facilities in future at the locations decided by the UT administration. Besides, implementation of high density plantation, NAFED will develop hi-tech nurseries for raising root stock and also import it to facilitate the farmers.
This historical initiative involves setting up virus indexing labs as per latest protocol for testing of quality planting material. The MoU has given a major thrust to marketing. The NAFED with J&K Government will work on branding and marketing of fruit crops and establishment of market linkages for exotic and non-seasonal vegetables and flowers in different metro cities of India.
Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, Managing Director, NAFED said the organisation will work in a time bound manner on each point to increase productivity and also ensure availability of hybrid vegetable seeds and high value exotic vegetable seeds while giving special focus to popularize aromatic plants of Jammu division.
Navin Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary to the Government, Agriculture and Horticulture Department, J&K said that all the required infrastructure including cold storage and processing facilities will be made available in a short span of time to take horticulture of Jammu and Kashmir in the global market. The robust mechanism for branding and marketing of horticulture produce and market linkage within the country will revolutionize the agriculture and horticulture sector in Jammu and Kashmir, he added.
BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Arun Kumar Mehta, Financial Commissioner, Finance Department and Nitishwar Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Lt Governor, besides other senior officers attended the MoU signing ceremony, in person and through virtual mode.