In Kashmir, where the apple orchards bloom against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, Ejaz Qureshi’s entrepreneurial journey has emerged as a beacon of hope. Born into a business-oriented family, Qureshi’s childhood dream was not just about being wealthy but creating employment opportunities that could resonate across the verdant landscapes of Jammu and Kashmir.
Currently serving as the President of the Jammu and Kashmir Fruits and Vegetables Processing and Integrated Cold Chain Association (JKPICCA), Qureshi has embarked on a mission to redefine the economic landscape of the region.
In an exclusive interview with Greater Kashmir’s Bussiness Editor Mukeet Akmali, he unveiled his vision, tracing his trajectory from childhood aspirations to the present.
Ejaz Qureshi, the proud owner of three Controlled Atmosphere (CA) stores with an impressive combined capacity of 15,000 metric tonnes, has set his sights on the agri-business sector. His goal is to empower local farmers by providing them with the necessary facilities to store their produce efficiently, enabling them to exercise greater control over their sales.
“Agri-business is the future, and it holds tremendous potential for our region,” Qureshi asserted during the interview.
He passionately believes that this sector can play a pivotal role in not only boosting the economy of Jammu and Kashmir but also doubling the income of farmers. His commitment to creating opportunities for employment and contributing to society has been a driving force behind his journey.
Reflecting on his early years, Qureshi reminisced, “I belong to a business family, and from childhood, I wanted to be known for my name and my contributions to society. I started with very little, but today, I have achieved things I used to dream of.”
His journey began with the family business, initially dealing with watches at Lal Chowk’s World Vision showroom. However, as technology evolved, so did Qureshi’s ventures as he started dealing with mobile phones.
“When cellular companies started entering Kashmir, I pushed for the employment of local youth as promoters. I wanted to create opportunities for Kashmiri youth and advocated for better salaries from these companies,” Qureshi explained. As the President of the Cellular Association of Kashmir, he played a pivotal role in ensuring that local youth were not just employed but received competitive salaries.
His transition into the world of Cold Chain and Controlled Atmosphere storage facilities was driven by the labour-oriented nature of the service, offering vast employment opportunities. The CA stores, with their capacity of 15,000 metric tonnes, became a crucial part of Qureshi’s strategy for economic development. “From grading to packing, the entire process is a testament to his commitment to labour-intensive services that generate substantial employment.”
“As the president of the association, I believe horticulture is a significant business. Agri-business has tremendous potential, unlike tourism, which is often subservient to the prevailing situation. Regardless of the circumstances, horticulture allows for value addition,” Qureshi emphasised. He sees the horticulture sector as a stable pillar of the region’s economy, resilient to external factors.
Touching upon the national narrative, Qureshi aligned his vision with the government’s and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on doubling farmers’ income. He stressed the importance of saving money through import substitution, a move that aligns with the larger economic goals of the country.
Qureshi concluded the interview with a powerful message to young entrepreneurs: “Whenever you want to achieve, your dedication and passion will provide you with the means.” His journey from the family business to becoming a key player in the agri-business and cold chain sector stands as a testament to the transformative power of dedication and passion, showcasing the potential for economic growth and prosperity in the beautiful region of Jammu and Kashmir.
“My success is a testament to the values instilled in me by my parents – their unwavering support, resilience, and commitment to hard work. In the tapestry of my achievements, the threads of their sacrifices and guidance are woven prominently. To the youth, remember, that respecting your parents is not just a cultural norm; it’s a compass guiding you through life’s journey. In honouring them, you not only honour your roots but also pave the way for a future rich in character, determination, and success.”