Need to be practical
The administration announced this week that Jammu and Kashmir is all set to have its own horticulture policy. The move is a welcome one as horticulture sector is the prime contributor towards the state’s economy.
The policy which focuses on bringing in betterment for the region including the growers has however forgotten the biggest bane of the horticulture and other sectors-the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
The status of the Jammu Srinagar National Highway is no hidden secret. The highway has been going through a rough phase with most of the days witnessing disruptions in traffic movement.
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 can prove 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 around 29.30 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
J&K is well known for its horticultural produce both in India and abroad. The state offers good scope for cultivation of horticultural crops, covering a variety of temperate fruits like apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, almond, cherry and subtropical fruits like mango, guava, citrus litchi, phalsa and Ber etc, besides medicinal and aromatic plants, floriculture, mushroom, plantation crops and vegetables.
But one thing that needs to be understood is that the produce needs to reach the markets-that too on time. The government should ensure that the horticulture produce finds the right market and the product is delivered when the markets are craving for it.
And to ensure that such conditions are made available the road and air connectivity between Kashmir and the rest of the world needs to be improved. After all one needs to look out for practical suggestions before seeking favorable results.