Ensuring robust trade
The state of the Jammu and Kashmir and especially, Kashmir region is dependent for its earnings on few sectors only. One such key sector is the horticulture and related activities. However, this sector is witnessing mounting losses over the years as the produce achieved in the agricultural sector including horticulture is not able to reach to its destination on time. The prime reason being the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway which is presently giving a tough time to all including the commuters as well. The highway has been going through a rough phase with most of the days witnessing disruptions in traffic movement. Besides, the closure of highway for hours together either for troops movement or movement of yatris is also leading to troubled travel on the highway. This phenomenon has led to losses in various sectors in Kashmir and agriculture and allied activities have taken a severe hit. The agriculture sector has witnessed tremendous stress owing to the bad condition of the highway and horticulture the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy has been the worse victim. The mainstay of Kashmir’s economy, Horticulture is proving to be a game changer for the much stressed economy. During the last fiscal Kashmir produced 24 lakh metric tons of fruit with 21 lakh metric tons being the share from apple crop alone. Horticulture is one of the largest employment generating sectors of the state as one hectare of orchard generates about 400 man-days of work a year and also helps other sectors like transport, pesticides, fertilizers, marketing and other sectors to grow. During the last fiscal the state of Jammu and Kashmir produced 24.30 lakh metric tons of fruit out of which 21.61 lakh metric tons were produced in Kashmir division. The growth in this sector is being recorded since the past many years now. Horticulture sector has witnessed 36 percent growth in terms of production during the last decade. As per economic survey report 2017, the production of fruits has increased from 16.36 lakh metric tonnes in 2007-08 to 22.35 lakh MTs in 2016-16, thus an increase of 5.99 lakh MTs What is noteworthy is that the area under fruit cultivation has been witnessing an increase over the years. The area under fruit cultivation has increased from 2.95 lakh hectares in 2007-08 to 3.38 lakh hectares in 2016-17. The growth of horticulture sector can be attributed to various initiatives taken by the governments which include mission for integrated development of horticulture, Prime Ministers developmental package and high density plantation programme. Under these schemes, due attention is being given towards establishment of High Density orchards, better post-harvest management by establishment of fruit mandies and creating controlled atmospheric storage facilities in addition to establishment of Fruit/Vegetables Processing units, technological support, awareness/publicity initiatives, research and extension. The sector can achieve further milestones but provided the state government also taken a keen interest and ensures that the horticulture produce is delivered to the destinations on time. The state government also needs to think on various alternatives which include the Mughal road which can be kept exclusively for the movement of vehicles carrying the produce to different destinations across India. This move will ensure maximum returns for the people in the valley.