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SKUAST-K training youth to cultivate, export flower bulbs

Srinagar, Jan 12: To grow flowers on a commercial scale and reduce their import, the SK University of Agricultural Science and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K) is training and employing youth on farming of minor temperate bulbous crops (flower bulbs matching Kashmir climate).

Official data at SKUAST-K reveals that around 20-30 lakh bulbs are imported to Kashmir every year, which include 10 lakh minor temperate bulbous crops of tulip, hyacinth, mascuri and around five to six lakh lilium.
The tulip garden here alone employs five lakh bulbs each year.

An official of SKUAST-K said the University, under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Extramural Funding Project, has standardised technology for bulb propagation and production at different altitudes of Kashmir Himalayas.

“Kashmir has the suitable temperature for the production and propagation of the temperate ornamental bulbs, including tulips, which no other state in India has,” he said.

The official said the Union Ministry of Science & Technology led Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has asked them to train the local youth on farming of bulb production of tulip and hyacinth.

Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Dr Nasir Masoodi, Principal Investigator, SKUAST-K, confirmed that the varsity was training and employing youth on farming of flower bulbs.
“Since 2016, we have trained 150 entrepreneurs or stakeholders for bulb production under DBT,” he said.

In the current fiscal, SKUAST-K, Dr Masoodi said, is training at least 80 more youth – 20 from each southern district.“Under the skill development programme, we prefer unemployed educated youth over illiterate.”

“In another project funded by Agriculture Skill Council of India, we have trained 25 people who have started their ventures on commercial floriculture,” Dr Masoodi added.

He said that on a 500 square metres patch of land, the production can yield 15,000 bulbs carrying a monetary value of around one lakh rupees. “We can sell it to the whole of India and boost the bulb production,” he added.