Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta chaired a meeting on Wednesday to review the achievements of the Department of Agriculture, Production and Farmer Welfare under various centrally sponsored programs.
The Principal Secretary of the Department of Agricultural Production and Farmer Welfare, the Vice Chancellor of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology as well as relevant leaders attended the meeting.
He was informed that among all the states / UTs, Jammu and Kashmir is the 3rd holder of monthly agricultural household income and the 5th best performing TU in agriculture and related sectors.
The horticulture sector in Jammu and Kashmir employs 27% of the population and contributes 8% of the state’s GDP, in addition to contributing immensely to carbon sequestration through 7.6 crore of trees.
To make J&K fruit growers the market leader in the country, the Department is implementing the three-pronged strategy of improving yield, storage capacity and marketing. The Ministry is encouraging a transition to a high density plantation with an annual yield potential of 50 MT of apples and 5 MT each of almonds and walnuts. In addition, the large-scale production of high density plantation rootstocks is also encouraged by local private entrepreneurs in order to reduce input costs.
He was informed that to promote horticulture in the Kandi belt of Jammu region, the department has started planting aloe vera and lemongrass on an experimental basis, showing promising results. The department has also developed a state-of-the-art nursery in Chakrohi to raise high density saplings to meet rootstock needs.
To further increase farmers’ incomes, an initial 25% subsidy on air transport of identified perishables is provided by the ministry under the Parvaaz program and efforts are underway to integrate the agricultural market with e-Nam in the next 2 months.
The Chief Secretary has ordered the rapid establishment of controlled atmosphere storage facilities in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure proper storage of agricultural and horticultural products with minimal waste. It was ordered that 80,000 MT of capacity be established by March 2022 and an additional 1 lakh MT per year for the next 3 years to bring the cumulative capacity to 5 lakh MT.
As part of the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), 66,000 soil samples were tested and 56,426 Soil Health Cards (SHC) were distributed. To facilitate sustainable and organic agriculture, 7 soil analysis laboratories at village level in addition to several mobile analysis laboratories have also been created. The chief secretary called on the agriculture ministry to ensure the universal distribution of soil health cards to all farmers by the end of next fiscal year. He also asked to saturate Kisan credit cards within a month.
The Department was further requested to modernize sowing and harvesting activities through technological interventions and to promote vermicomposting techniques, in addition to ensuring the deployment of Fasal Bima Yojna by the end of the fiscal year.
Emphasizing the need to develop a niche for J&K organic products, the Chief Secretary led the establishment of organic testing and certification institutions to verify the quality of agricultural products.
Dr Mehta called on the Department to raise awareness of high density planting and help farmers make informed decisions about sustainable planting, use of organic fertilizers, proper collection of converging rainwater with the Department of Rural Development and the Department of Jal Shakti, in addition to promoting community harvesting machines.
With a view to doubling farmers’ incomes, the Department has been tasked with continuing to diversify crops and ensure dual cropping throughout Jammu and Kashmir.
The chief secretary also asked SKAUST-J to operationalize a Kisan call center and Krishi Vigyan center as a one-stop-shop for farmers to seek advice and assistance on various government sponsored programs and interventions.
In addition, 1,352 ha of additional area were also transformed into orchards and 7 ha into protection crops.
The Department of Agriculture is implementing a 4-pronged strategy to double the income of farmers under the 4 pillars of technology, cash flow, irrigation and marketing. As a result, the ministry extended financial assistance to 11.7 lakh farmers through the Kissan credit card and disbursed incentives worth Rs. 1,706 crore to over one million beneficiaries in the framework of the PM-KISAN regime.
The Department extended irrigation coverage to 2,000 Ha the previous year and aims to reach 4,000 Ha in the current fiscal year. In addition, to support the farmers’ harvest, a paddy / maize thresher is provided to each panchayat.
Within the framework of the National Agricultural Extension and Technology Mission, a targeted intervention is provided for agricultural mechanization, seed replacement and capacity building through sub-missions on agricultural mechanization (SMAM); seeds and planting material (SMSP); and agricultural extension (SMAE). (GNS)