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J&K Administration Approves Rs.146 Cr Project for Promotion of Niche Crops

The aim of the J&K government is to increase output, improve livelihoods, and increase market accessibility.

Yash Saxena
J&K Administration Approves Rs.146 Cr Project for Promotion of Niche Crops (File Image)
J&K Administration Approves Rs.146 Cr Project for Promotion of Niche Crops (File Image)

The government of Jammu and Kashmir has approved a prestigious project worth Rs 146 crore to promote niche crops as the UT's unique heritage, which will be implemented over the next five years.

As per Atal Dulloo, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Agriculture Production Department, "The project aims to diversify and expand the area of niche crops over an area of 11,100 hectares, ensuring livelihood security for 111,000 targeted beneficiaries and generating Rs. 2,238 crores in revenue."

The initiative will concentrate on increasing output, improving livelihoods, and increasing market accessibility. This will be accomplished through the establishment of nurseries and seed villages, the development of infrastructure, and collaboration with various partners and stakeholders, he added.

The project will promote human resource development for capacity building and job creation. The project is being carried out in collaboration with SKUAST Jammu and Kashmir and the Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Department of Jammu and Kashmir.

Saffron, Kalazeera, Kashmiri Lal Mirch, Peanut, Anardhana, Bhaderwah Rajmash, hill garlic, Mushkbudhji (aromatic rice), Red Rice, and Shallot are among the niche crops grown in Jammu and Kashmir. These crops are grown on 32,000 hectares of land, with a total production of 24,000 metric tonnes, contributing Rs. 945 crores to the UT GDP.

The project's main components included the establishment of 5,226 nurseries/seed villages, which will create 7750 job opportunities for unemployed youth in the niche sector. In addition, the project will build one Mini Spice Park, two Modern Rice Mills, and eleven grading and processing units in target clusters, all of which will be linked to UT's NABL laboratories and e-trading centers. This will facilitate quality promotion and value addition, resulting in profitable market access.

To promote these niche crops at the export level, the project will also undertake tagging of identified niche crops, for which descriptors for their uniqueness will be developed.

This is one of the 29 projects approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration after being recommended by the UT Level Apex Committee for holistic development of Agriculture and allied sectors in the UT of J&K. The prestigious committee is headed by Dr. Mangala Rai, Former DG ICAR, and includes luminaries from the fields of agriculture, planning, statistics, and administration such as Ashok Dalwai, CEO NRAA, Dr. P K Joshi, Secretary, NAAS, Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Horticulture Commissioner MOA, and FW, Dr. H S Gupta, Former Director, IARI, Atal Dulloo, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Agriculture Production Department (APD)

One of the major challenges in expanding cultivation areas is the scarcity of high-quality planting material.

The project aims to address this issue by establishing 5182 registered nurseries on 408 ha and 44 seed villages on 212 ha, primarily in heritage sites such as Pampore, Gurez, Padder, Kishtwar, Baderwah, Bandipora, Sagam, Tangdar, Ramban, and Poonch. The nurseries/seed villages will produce 2159 MT of quality planting material, 40000 plants, and 10 crore seedlings in total. The project's outcome will serve as a pilot module for area expansion for high-value crop production enhancement as a long-term strategy in the UT of J&K.

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