Horticulture is the back bone of the state in Kashmir region and same can be done here in jammu as well. Most of progressive states if u see, u will find they r excellent in horticulture. Today horticulture contributes 28.5% of GDP in agriculture and 52% of export share in agriculture from just 8.5% of the cultivated area. India’s horticulture exports earned rupees 14,000 crore in 2011-12. Potential of horticulture in jammu region is immense like Kashmir but still not fully exploited. The way, the department is working these days I am sure there will be lot miracles happening in next 5 to 6 years. There r some problems which should be addressed and they r being given due care by our worthy Director sir and Minister sahaib.
In Horticulture Mission, Head Creation of water resources, we either go for the construction of cemented tanks or installation of hand pumps in the private orchards. Quality of material used in the construction of Tank cannot be properly ascertained without the proper knowledge of civil works. Normal construction works like cemented wall and flooring can last for some time even if quality material is poor bur tanks require excellent quality material as they have to store water and more over underground storage tanks should be free from seepage and leaks and for that to ascertain we require professionally trained officers having knowledge of civil works.
• It is difficult for us to know the quality of material used in the installation of hand pump. Depth of hand pump cannot be properly measured with crude methods as it starts confrontation with beneficiary and so we require trained officers who can properly ascertain depth and other important parameters.
• Normal spray rate per barrel (200lt) of water including the cost of water, cost of fuel used in spray machine and rent of machine is between 50 -100 rupees. In such circumstances no farmer will pump water from the Hand pump as it is costlier. Very rarely they pump water from hand pumps and so the rubber parts like washels get damaged and iron parts get rusted and in the end incentive goes waste.
• In this scheme interference of political leaders and MLA,S is so much that it practically make our field workers handicapped. Beneficiaries are selected by the MLA,s .These beneficiaries are rarely interested in making the scheme successful but more interested in subsidy amount and being close to political leaders their influence and power makes them successful in achieving their goals which is against the interest of Horticulture Department. Such Political interferences should be minimized and Horticulture development officers should be given powers to select beneficiaries on their own without the recommendations of MLA,s so as to make HDO,s more answerable when ever quality of work is poor.
• We should create our own resource persons in the Horticulture department by sending our officers for soil conservation courses so that only trained persons with knowledge of civil works can properly ensure the quality of work and recommend for release of payments.
• System of recovery from the beneficiary should be made practical. Legal procedures to start recovery from the Beneficiaries who got benefits from the Department of Horticulture and later on got disinterested and spoiled the incentive should be brought under legal recovery system as the banks deal with their defaulters.
On farm Handling Unit
On farm Handling units should be made in Orchards as per the Departmental norms but practically it exposes the farmer to lot many new problems, theft, Transportation Etc
• Farmers usually in Kashmir pack and sort the fruit while picking fruit in the orchards in open and after packing in boxes they take their boxes at their homes, from there they transport it to different markets. Making of On Farm Handling Units in Orchards means they will have to store their produce in orchards unguarded which makes their produce prone to theft. More over every orchard does not have the road connectivity and storing fruit there is uneconomical and unwise.
• Political interference in this scheme is again the main hurdle in smooth implementation of this scheme. Horticulture development officers should be given more powers in the selection of beneficiary for this incentive and political interference should be totally curbed.
• Such farmers who take the incentive for pack house and later on convert these pack houses into houses should be forced to pay back the incentive.
Rare and Minor
Fruits like peach, plum apricot and cherry have got little scope in Kupwara as the fruits are highly perishable and farmers are least interested in their cultivation. More over benefit in Apple plantation is more as compared to these fruits. So in spite of lot of hard work very rarely a farmer gets convinced in their cultivation. Such schemes which get poor response from the farmers usually fail not because of the fault of field workers but because of lack of interest of farmer. These fruit orchard should be fist established in our own orchards and their benefits over Apple plantations should be practically demonstrated to the farmers if they really exist and then we will be able to do convince farmers.
In this scheme fencing is must without fencing plants usually get damaged by cattle so the component of fencing is very much required otherwise scheme has little practical utility so far as the rejuvenation of old orchard is concerned.
Planting walnut seeded plants will not serve the purpose such plants come into bearing very late and by the time they come into bearing usually farmer get disinterested. We should try to be very technical in our approach and try to produce grafted plants
Horticulture is the Back bone of Kashmir. Proper yield assessments should be made on the basis crop cut patterns in cereals. Orchards should be randomly selected and yield per Ha should be worked out on scientific basis if needed Arial surveys should be made. Exact productivity per ha should be calculated and then proper schemes should be framed. In kupwara normal density of plants per ha is nearly 370 and production is mostly calculated on 250 plants/ha. Every year team should be constituted which will access the yield of at least 20 orchards in each district so as to get the exact productivity.
Once exact data is generated then we will come to know that weather we should work on quality improvement or on increase in productivity.
Per hectare productivity in Kashmir I feel is much more than what we actually publish. Farmers in Kashmir need Fertilizer, pesticides, Pruning tools, ladders, Quality Plant material with proper certification from the department about its variety and root stock and good support of processing industry so that the C grade apple also fetches good price in the market. The Indian domestic market for fresh apple and processed apple products would have to be promoted by creating the necessary consumer awareness by propagating their health benefits over the consumption of carbonated beverages which have already touched the enormous demand of 24 lac MT equivalent to 304 mill cases of 24 bottles in 2002 and has increased to about 39.6 lac MT equivalent to 500 mill Cases in the year 2006-07. The sale processed apple products stand nowhere against it. Slogans like Sunday ho ya Monday Roz Khayain andain are not uncommon on Television. Such tact’s should also be applied in the advertisement of apple and its related products. This will gear up the domestic market and consequently market fluctuations will get minimised and Growers will definitely adopt better techniques to boost up the production.
Regarding civil works sir, I want say that we should first learn and then execute works in the fields and if we learn while working then we are prone to commit more faults and sometime serious even.