Major change brewing in JK’s vegetable sector through precision farming
Post by Syeda Rafiyah on Friday, December 30, 2022
Srinagar, Dec 29: A major change is brewing in the vegetable sector of J&K through a precision farming intervention which will double gross output of vegetables from Rs 3982.50 cr to Rs 8021.25 cr per year.
Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Agriculture Production Department, Atal Dulloo said the intervention which shall be carried out over the next five years by the Agriculture Production Department J&K, shall involve a project cost of Rs 420 crores.
“Commercial vegetable farming has been identified as a key tool in achieving economic prosperity of the farming community through a significant income boost and the Agriculture Production Department has laid a great emphasis on commercial production of local and exotic vegetables,” he said.
Dulloo further said that J&K had a unique advantage as compared to the rest of the country in that it can undertake year-round cultivation of vegetables and can grow almost every vegetable crop, including exotic ones which are in high demand and have export potential.
Promotion of vegetables/exotic vegetables under Open and Hi-Tech Protected Cultivation” is one among the 29 projects, which were approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.
He said these projects are being recommended by the UT Level Apex Committee for holistic development of Agriculture and Allied Sectors in J&K.
The committee is headed by Dr Mangala Rai, Former DG ICAR and has other luminaries in the field of Agriculture, Planning, Statistics & Administration like Atal Dulloo apart from the Vice Chancellors of the twin Agriculture Universities of the UT.
He said presently, demand for vegetables in J&K is met by both domestic vegetable production to the tune of 1991.25 thousand metric tons worth Rs 3982.50 crores and imports of another 318.26 metric thousand tons valued at Rs. 636.52 crores annually.
“The quality of imported vegetables in terms of nutritional value and freshness however, gets affected due to long transportation and perishable nature of the produce, due to which almost double than the estimated requirement for vegetables is imported and sold at high costs,” he said.
The ACS said that domestic production of vegetables offers a tremendous scope to make fresh and nutritionally superior vegetables to the population at cheaper prices than current inflated prices.
“With the proposed new cultivation over a net area of 5,000 ha, vegetable industry in J&K under open field conditions would produce about 360 thousand metric tons annually worth Rs 720 crores at current price,” he said.
Under the project identification of beneficiaries and cluster formation shall be achieved after proper planning followed by Land Development, identification of specific vegetable crops for specific areas, besides off-season vegetables can be exported to other states taking advantage of natural temperate climatic conditions fetching premium prices for our farmers.
Dulloo also said that the project also undertakes intensifying vegetable cultivation through design, manufacturing and establishment of new and improved region-specific hi-tech structures with automation.
“This shall facilitate cultivation of high value vegetables and exotic crops like broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, lettuce, red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, parsley, celery, cherry tomato etc. which have great demand in domestic & foreign markets,” he said.
Under the project, 1100 Hi-Tech protected structures over an area of 55 ha will be established to produce 59.40 thousand mt of high-value and exotic vegetables valued at Rs 409 cr.
“To overcome dearth or non-availability of high-quality planting material, low cost protected structures in the form of 3584 poly houses over another 55 hectares will be established complementing vegetable nursery production to capitalizing the early vegetable growing season and enhancing cropping intensity,” he said.
Dulloo said an essential component to bring about this revolutionary change in vegetable production scenario involves research and development for designing new varieties & production technologies.
The vegetable production plan shall be in tight consonance with market requirements, transport & linkage value chains, through signing of MoU’s with Private (National/Multinational) Fresh Vegetable Retail Outlets & Public Sector Undertakings (Agro-Industries & JKHPMC).
He said stress has been laid on training of entrepreneurs for successful business ventures in JK adding that the project shall create around 4700 enterprises and provide gainful year-round employment for 47,250 persons.
The agriculture department in collaboration with SKUAST-Kashmir shall be implementing this project, with the objective to resolve currently increasing vegetable deficit problem in J&K with a major focus on exporting high value exotics, besides supporting indigenous tourism industry where such vegetables are much sought after.