Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government has launched Rs 400 crore `Promotion of vegetables’ project to increase production and reduce dependence on imports.
The government has set a production target of 596000 Metric Tonnes in the next five years. The `Promotion of vegetables’ project will focus on the cultivation of exotic varieties.
Currently, Jammu and Kashmir has a high seasonal dependence on imports to meet vegetable demands. J&K imports more than 318.26 thousand metric tons of vegetables valuing Rs. 636.52 crores annually from states including Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
From establishing vegetable nurseries to hi-tech playhouses at a mass scale, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has earmarked Rs 400 crore for this project.
A project document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor revealed that the administration is targeting to increase vegetable production from 1991 to 2587 thousand Metric Tons.
“The objective is to increase vegetable cropping intensity from 165 to 250 percent. Focus areas are horizontal and vertical expansion to improve production and per-unit productivity. A surplus of 68000 MT per year will be produced from the fifth year onwards after implementation of the project,” it said.
Under this project, 1100 new hi-tech greenhouses and 3548 new poly-house-based vegetable nurseries will be established in various districts of Jammu and Kashmir for high-value vegetables.
“These new polyhouses (vegetable nurseries) will be established for supplying quality planting material. New interventions including popularizing precision farming techniques to increase cropping intensity and research and development for designing new region-specific methods of vegetable cultivation are being brought under this project,” the document said.
For increasing the returns to framers, the project also focuses on the cultivation of exotic vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, lettuce, red cabbage, and other varieties.
“These exotic vegetables offer a unique opportunity for the vegetable growers of Jammu and Kashmir to cater to demands for these vegetables in high-end markets. Value addition and market accessibility are the key areas which the government will focus through this project,” the document said.
Under this project, the government has also focused to create 47,250 jobs and 4648 enterprises in the next five years.
Dr. Khurshid Hussain, Assistant Professor, Vegetable Sciences, SKUAST-K, who co-drafted the project proposal said that domestic production of vegetables offers tremendous scope to make available 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 hectares, he said the vegetable industry in J&K under open field conditions would produce about 360 thousand metric tonnes worth Rs 720 crores at the current price. Similarly, about 59.40 thousand metric tons of high-value & exotic vegetables valued at Rs. 409 crores, would be produced from the hi-tech greenhouses.
“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”, said Dr. Hussain.
Director, Agriculture Department, Kashmir, Chowdhary Mohammad Iqbal said the implementation of the project will meet the demand to a large extent.
“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.