Writes to Advisor, Principal Secretary Horticulture Department
Srinagar, October 8: CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami has urged Jammu and Kashmir administration to take immediate steps for the revival of the horticulture sector in the region.
In a communication to the Advisor K. K.Sharma and Principal Secretary Horticulture Department, he brought the attention of the government towards the pressing problems faced by fruit growers and traders.
“Despite the last three decades of uncertainty, the horticulture industry in Jammu and Kashmir which is considered as the backbone of the region’s economy was flourishing till recently. However, the decline started from November 2018, when the apple crop and trees received damages due to unseasonal snowfall. And the fruit industry in Kashmir faced economic consequences due to the lockdown imposed after the Centre abrogated Article 370 last August. As if it was not enough, another unseasonal snowfall on November 7 last year followed by Covid-19 lockdown in March this year wreaked havoc on the fruit industry in Kashmir,” the letter reads.
“Now this season the spread of scab in orchards due to the spray of fake and substandard pesticides and fungicides has broken the back of the fruit industry in Kashmir. This happened due to the wrong advice given to the farmers by the concerned government departments about the spray of anti-scab sprays. The agencies who approved these sprays must be made liable to pay compensation to the growers, who have suffered huge losses,” it further reads.
“From transportation, and a slump in rates, fruit growers faced multiple problems in selling produce last season. Last year sky-rocketing freight prices and undue stoppages of apple-laden trucks on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway badly hit Kashmir’s fruit growers even today, despite assurances trucks are getting halted for days together. The halting of fruit laden trucks on the highway created a crisis-like situation as delays caused huge losses to the perishable fruits,” it said.
“Research & Development in processing sector is very weak. Lack of processing facilities and suitably qualified manpower is one of the principal reasons which make ventures in horticulture production unprofitable. Organic farming & use of disease/pest resistant planting material has not been yet introduced on a scale that makes dent on farming. Half hearted approach in organic farming has proved a total failure. Subsidy coupled with legislative measures need to be adopted in certain well defined areas of model villages. Walnut production which is organic by default can be a game changer provided deficiency in processing and storage protocols in walnuts. Marketing & Grading standards should be strictly adopted in high value foreign exchange earning crops like walnut and saffron both as raw and processed produce,” it further said.
J&K administration must not only ensure smooth flow of fruit laden trucks along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway this time but also control the transportation charges. In the name of relief and compensation, the government has played a prank with the growers so far.
The J&K administration should also make arrangements to purchase the “C” Grade fruit through Market intervention Scheme, like Himachal Pradesh is doing. The “C” grade fruit could be sold to the fruit processing units in J&K at concessional rates, which are presently defunct. By doing so, not only the growers will be benefited, but defunct fruit processing units could be made functional.