Post by on Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Director General Horticulture Kashmir on Monday revealed that the horticulture season is expecting a bumper crop of cherry and strawberry this year due to the favourable weather conditions. The growers and trading community are thus expecting good earnings this season. The coming months are, presumably, hectic for farmers as well as food processing units. However, the recent spell of rains and hailstorm has, however, cast a spell of doubt on the ‘bumper crop’ as many of the fruit orchids got damaged at different places in the valley. Horticulture is one of the important sectors of Jammu and Kashmir and contributes immensely to the economy of the UT. It is a fact that the valley of Kashmir is endowed with rich horticulture products like apple, cherry, almond, walnut, plum, strawberry, apricot, saffron etc and among these cherry, walnut, almond and saffron are the monopoly products. Over the years there has been a lot of talk about the horticulture sector of the UT. The growth of food processing sector in the Valley during the recent years makes one convinced that the sector holds great promise. J&K has a tremendous diversity in climate and physiognomic factors that equip the region with the kind of ‘niche’ to grow wide range in many cases of unique type of horticulture products. Now given the importance of the sector in the economy of the UT, concrete measures are needed to prevent it from risks that arise because of weather or natural calamities, lack of adequate infrastructure, marketing and others. Horticulture forms the fundamental strength of the rural economy of the UT and with a yearly turnover of around Rs 10,000 crore, it provides direct and indirect employment to more than 35 lakh persons. Furthermore, it is also contributing 8% to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). Taking a lackadaisical approach won’t only tell upon the primary sector but will also hurt the subsidiary industrial sectors like food processing that has the chance to emerge as one of the sunrise industries in Kashmir. Previous governments have done very little for the development of horticulture market and food processing sector. Given the geographical disadvantages of the J&K vis-à-vis other Indian states that are close to consumption markets need to be addressed through technology intervention like cold storages and compressed atmosphere stores. Now is the right time for laying stress on product quality including grading, packaging, branding as big brands are likely to make a big impact in the fresh vegetables, fruits and other allied markets in India. Let every stake holder capitalise this potential in right earnest.