SRINAGAR, MARCH 08: Horticulture is a powerful force that drives the economy of Jammu and Kashmir.
The sector contributes eight percent to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of J&K. According to the figures, 7.5 lakh families of around 35 lakh souls are associated with this sector.
This sector has emerged as one of the prime sources of employment for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir.
Impressed by the rich quality of fruits produced in Jammu and Kashmir and having major demand in outside markets, an ex-serviceman of the Indian Navy from Kathua district Dheeraj Kumar has turned into an agripreneur. Kumar develops three assortments of strawberries – Camarosa, Winter Dawn, and Nubila – at his fields estimating 22 kanals (2.75 sections of land) in his local Haripur town in the Hiranagar line sub-division. The development of strawberries has arisen as a rewarding business suggestion for the cultivating local area here.
Sharing his example of overcoming adversity, Kumar says he has employed 10 individuals for leveling, picking, packaging, and transport purposes. He supplies strawberries to shopping centers and significant outlets in and around Pathankot and regions in the outskirts of Punjab connecting Kathua.
“I am also exploring the option of selling online. I am in talks with a few e-commerce platforms,” he says. An awardee of the Horticulture Expo Jammu Awards, Kumar says there was no thinking back after he decided on the best in class innovation viz drip irrigation, which besides lowering the water dependency, ensures more crop per drop. He expects to produce a yield of an amount of Rs 15-20 lakhs, which is in line with the prime minister’s vision of doubling farmers’ income. The enhancement of the subsidy amount to Rs 13,000 per Kanal from the earlier ceiling of Rs 3,125 per Kanal has come as a shot in the arm for newcomers like him.
Horticulture has ample opportunities for the establishment of agro-industries. The government of India as well as the J & K government is keen to expand the growth of the horticulture sector.
This sector can transform the economy of UT tremendously over the next decade by creating job opportunities, increasing the production to maximum economic growth, ecological development, and poverty alleviation of the UT. An area of 3.33 lakh hectares (2020-21) is under fruit cultivation. A production of 20.35 lakh MTs (2020-21) has been recorded.
The Horticulture area assumes a significant part in J&K and contributes fundamentally to the Economy and is a source of livelihood for 33 lac souls. Horticulture development is one of the thrust areas and several programmes are being implemented, resulting in the generation of higher incomes in the rural areas, thereby improving the quality of life in villages. The variety of Horticultural products of J&K has earned worldwide fame because of their good quality and taste.
Among the various crops, apple and walnut are the major temperate fruit crops accounting for about 75 percent of the total area and 65 percent of the temperate fruit production, respectively. In India, total apple production is approximately about 28 lakh MTs and of which 20 lakh MTs are produced from J&K.
It is for the first time, 2000 trucks of vegetables have been exported from Jammu and Kashmir to different parts of the country. J&K has accomplished the top position in the whole country with a yield of 70 quintals for each hectare of paddy. We are converting over 60,000 hectares of Basmati cultivation area into high productivity land.
Apple market has also reached 8000 crores and is changing the lives of 30 lakh people connected with the sector. The region under cultivation of fruits in Jammu and Kashmir expanded from 2.21 lakh hectares in 2001 to 3.33 lakh hectares subsequently enlisting an increment of 1.22 lakh hectares in twenty years.
On one hand, the land under agriculture has seen a continuous decline but on the other, the area under horticulture has seen a huge increase which has cemented the latest position as a torchbearer of the economy.
The fruit production in the Union Territory (UT) has impressively expanded. In 2001, the fruit production was recorded at 10.9 lakh metric tons and the same has now gone up to 24.44 lakh metric tons. Apple fruit partakes in an overwhelming majority in fruit production. In a similar period, the development of apples has multiplied from 9 lakh metric tons to 18 lakh metric tons.
Emerging as the significant contributor to the development of Jammu and Kashmir, the Horticulture sector in the coming years will transform the economic landscape of the entire J&K.