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Navin Choudhary reviews progress on implementation of APEDA, AFC project

JAMMU: Principal Secretary, Agriculture Production and Farmers' Welfare Department, Navin Kumar Choudhary today chaired a meeting to discuss the implementation of project; 'Developing Export Oriented Agri & Horti- Enterprises for Enhancing Farmers' Income in Pristine Himalayan Region of Jammu & Kashmir' aimed to boost exports of agriculture and horticulture products of Jammu & Kashmir.

Director Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Dr Tarun Bajaj, Secretary APEDA, Dr Sudhanshu, Managing Director Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), B Ganeshan, Director Agriculture Jammu, Director Agriculture Kashmir, Director Horticulture Jammu and Director Horticulture Kashmir participated in the meeting through video conferencing.

The meeting discussed implementation of the project; Developing Export Oriented Agri & Horti- Enterprises for Enhancing Farmers' Income in Pristine Himalayan Region of Jammu & Kashmir', being implemented by APEDA with AFC. Under the project, production, processing and marketing of selected agriculture and horticulture products of J&K would be done to boost the local economy.

During the meeting, the Principal Secretary was informed through a powerpoint presentation about the strategy for setting up agri-export zones for apple and walnut besides promotion of key crops of J&K like saffron, basmati and cherry. The project has been designed to promote and market these products in international markets like the Middle East, Australia, Singapore and United States.

Under the project, the proposal constitutes setting up of five to six storage, packaging and processing clusters through convergence. The project would also ensure scientific measures like soil-water testing and residual analysis in addition to logistics and exports integration.

On the ocassion, the Principal Secretary lauded the proposal and shared his experience with respect to various agri-horticulture products of J&K. He informed that a 400 hectare high density plantation for apples has been created and additional 1000 hectare land is to be added towards such plantation in the subsequent years.

During the meeting, the Principal Secretary highlighted about the high market potential of various crops of Jammu & Kashmir besides those selected under the project initially.

Navin Choudhary remarked that gucchi mushrooms have recently been granted GI tag and there is ample need to promote it among premium consumers of the world. He also mentioned about the rich variety of organic mushrooms and honey and called for their promotion.

The Principal Secretary praised the aromatic basmati rice of RS Pura and said that more farmers need to cultivate the crop through organic methods. He said that Farmers Producers Organisations need to be formed for systematic testing, certification and promotion of such product.

Navin Choudhary also highlighted about the exotic mushk buji rice, trout fish of Kashmir valley and said that the department is working on increasing trout production by two-three times this year. He also highlighted that next year J&K would be a milk surplus region, adding that there is a need to process milk into high value products like cheese.

The Principal Secretary sought APEDA's support in speedily providing GI tags to other specialties of Jammu & Kashmir like zeera and Kashmiri chilly.

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