Five points to note about Netherlands assistance to boost horticulture sector in J&K

Horticulture, also termed as the backbone of state's economy contributes immensely. Approximately 5000 crore rupees is contributed to J&K's economy by horticulture sector by engaging around seven lakh families in this sphere either directly or indirectly. This sector contributes significantly to state's economy adding around 7 % to the Gross State Domestic Product.

The horticulture sector has grown significantly as fruit crops are grown as per the definite zonalisation programme. The three main zones include Temperate Zone, Sup Temperate Zone and Cold Arid Zone. The temperate zone refers to most of the Kashmir valley including some parts of Jammu division like Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Reasi, Kathua and Udhampur where fruits like apple, pear, chestnut, almond, walnut and strawberries are cultivated. The second zone refers to mid zone or Sub-temperate zone which covers areas like Uri and Karnah; most of the stone fruits like peach, plum and apricot are grown in these areas. Lastly, the Cold Arid Zone includes Leh and Kargil where cherry; grapes, apricots, etc. are cultivated.

But now in order to pace up the functioning of horticulture sector, the Netherlands government would assist Jammu and Kashmir in developing hi-tech horticulture infrastructure in the state; its ambassador to India Alphonsus Stoelinga said recently. Few things are required to be understood regarding this new ray of hope:

1) Horticulture Sector in J&K has engaged around 33 lakh people in the trade who work 400 mandays per year in each hectare of the orchard. Still, comparing to the present day cultivation, productivity can be enhanced with the help of new technology and Netherlands will come as a great help in that case because Netherlands stands at second position in top agricultural producing countries.

2) Recently, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands visited the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) Kashmir to see demonstration projects of high density apple orchards established by SKUAST, Kashmir in collaboration with companies from the European nation. Alphonsus Stoelinga promised to extend all the possible help to the state for increasing productivity.

3) Certain projects were established under the international business programme of the Netherlands to showcase the advanced technology and high-quality virus- free apple and other fruit plant materials offered by the Dutch companies at SKUAST for the benefit of the state. Though, Netherlands is considered as the heart of the international floriculture sector yet their horticulture is also blooming with the help of new age technology.

4) The state officials involved in the programme are keen to adopt the orchard techniques from Netherlands particularly about apples as that will boost the sector considering the productivity of the fruit crop in the state.

5) The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands also visited two cold storage plants, Fruit Master Agro Fresh and H N Agri-Serve, Lassipora Pulwama in south Kashmi. Both the plants are using technology imported from Netherlands.

The entire programme was meant to get sustainable assistance from Netherlands in horticulture sector so that J&K can also take benefits from the latest technological changes.



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