Editorial: Horticulture and Ladakh
Srinagar: The horticulture Industry has a tremendous potential for growth in all the three divisions of the state. As such the government’s efforts to include and promote this activity should get a focused attention.
Keeping this initiative in mind the government is keen to bring the Ladakh on the horticulture map of the State.
Ladakh, being a unique agro-climatic region of the world, bears a huge potential for niche crop production. However, the traditional agricultural practices have barely generated any surplus for the communities and rarely fulfill the complete food requirements of the people. Therefore, there was a need to explore avenues of income generation through value addition and fresh marketing networks. There was also a need to create a distinct Ladakhi brand of horticultural produce.
For promoting horticulture activity in the region an exclusive fruit mandi is being set up at Kurbathang in Leh. The Mandi is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 1.09 crore to provide avenues for better and convenient marketing practices to the farmers of the region.
The mandi is being readied regarding possibilities to explore and introduce new high yielding fruit varieties in the region, besides, the region will also be tested for introduction of new type of fruits in the Ladakh region.
The government is also planning to motivate the farmers to adopt modern farming practices, besides conducting mass awareness campaign in the interiors of the region on zonal level regarding use of quality fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides.
The region has already witnessed some strides on promotion of horticulture activities. A fruit processing unit has been established at the Ribook centre of LEDeG at Leh. The raw material procured from the various SHGs is processed using scientific machinery, packaged in glass bottles and attractively labeled. Processing of apricots to make jams and jellies is also carried out at the village level by SHGs. Training, for various types of fruit processing, is conducted by LEDeG’s Agriculture Team for SHGs as well.
Presently, two horticultural crops Apricot and Sea-Buckthorn (wild as well as cultivated) are marketed through conventional marketing channels where growers are exploited to a greater extent.
LEDeG’s Agriculture team, therefore, has been engaged in value addition of these two crops at the SHG level, by making jam, jelly and juices followed by improved packaging and marketing. Additionally, Natural Halman, Sulphurised Halman, Osmotic Apricot and Apricot Oil are some of the other products produced by women SHGs and marketed by LEDeG.
Presently, the processed products of Apricot and Sea-Buckthorn are marketed in Leh and Dharmshala (H.P) markets through a distribution channel, comprising of SHGs, LEDeG, Wholesalers and Retailers directly.
This experiment has proved that the region has the potential of massive growth for horticulture produce, what is however needed is the sincere and committed effort from the governments side to set examples of success.