Srinagar, Apr 12: The development of a Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) for the export of lotus stem (Nadru) to other countries , particularly the United Arab Emirates, has given Nadru farmers across the Dal Lake in Srinagar new hope.
Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently acknowledged the FPO's work on his radio programme "Mann Ki Baat" in which he discussed the Nadru.
Farmers say the foundation of the first FPO has changed their fortunes and is a significant step towards exporting the special lotus stem to foreign countries.
Mohammad Abass, the FPO's Managing Director, stated that they began working on this concept around 8 months ago and that it became a success because to the efforts and support of the Director Agriculture Kashmir.
He said so far 250 farmers who cultivate Nadru in Dal Lake have converged with the FPO. Abass said when Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his radio program “Mann Ki Baat” talked about Nadru, more and more farmers are connecting with the FPO.
“All the 250 farmers are now happy and are hopeful that they will benefit from it. They expect that the government will help in marketing on a national and international level. We aim to connect 2000 farmers,” he said.
Abass said earlier the farmers were not exporting the produce outside and this has happened for the first time. “Now farmers get the maximum benefit which will improve their financial condition. The lotus stem is 100 percent organic,” he said. He said apart from lotus stem they also export other vegetables like carrot, reddish, turnip etc.
Director Agriculture Kashmir, Chowdhary Muhammad Iqbal said that it was the Agriculture Department that started working on lotus stem both at national and international levels.
“Apart from Indian states, we have been able to send lotus stems to Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries. The department is trying to promote all varieties that are being cultivated inside the Dal Lake in Srinagar,” he said.
The director said the quality of lotus of Kashmir is far better than artificial lotus varieties that are cultivated in various parts of the country. “Kashmiri lotus is delicious and has a unique taste and it was not promoted till date,” he said.
Shahnawaz Hussain, a Nadru farmer of Akhone Mohalla, Dal Lake said that they would only send their produce to the local mandis and they would not get the exact market.
“Now there is no mediator. The market has improved and now we get good prices for the produce at our doorsteps after the FPO was formed,” he said.
Shahnawaz produces more than 10 quintals of Nadru in his 20 kanals of land in the Dal Lake and the FPO has come as a healing touch for the many farmers like him.
“Now we are directly sending our produce to the national and international markets and the agriculture department has played a significant role in this regard,” he said.
He said this year two consignments of Nadru were sent to outside the J&K and outside country from Dal Lake and they have got genuine prices for their produce. “We have also been promised seeds and poly houses,” he said.
To mention, when the FPO was incorporated it was named as Dal Lake Lotus Stem Farmers Producer Company Ltd. by district administration Srinagar in association with the Agriculture Department in December last year. Notably, the FPO is supported by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) under the Central Sector Scheme.
Another farmer, Altaf Hussain said he was happy over the export of Nadru in the national markets saying that it would motivate young people to take it as an entrepreneurship.
“We have also sent one consignment and got a good price. We cultivate some 10 quintals of Nadru in a year,” said Altaf, a resident of Lateef Mohalla.
He stated that more individuals should be connected to the FPO so that Nadru may reach marketplaces all around the world.