JK Govt Takes Several Steps to Minimize Farmers' Economic Distress Amid COVID-19

Jammu, May 22 (PTI) The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to set up several collection centres for various agricultural products in proximity of their production areas to enable farmers reach them directly to sell their products without any interference of brokers.

This is the part of a slew of measures that the Union Territory government has taken to minimise farmers' economic distress due to the COVID-19 lockdown, an official spokesperson said.

The other measures include steps to promote exports of basmati rice from Jammu region besides supporting high density plantation for fruits like apple, kiwi, peach, grapes and walnuts and decongestion of major fruit and vegetable mandies across J&K besides timely marketing of the agricultural and horticultural products.

The Agriculture Production Department has allowed deputy commissioners to notify various places in their respective jurisdictions, where farmers can bring their produce for marketing without any intermediary interference, the spokesman said.

The guidelines said a collection or aggregation centre in the proximity of production areas may be set up by a person after getting it registered by the concerned market administrative committees.

The person will have to comply with a set of guidelines, specially refraining from any kind of hoarding, under the Essential Commodities Act.

All the market administrative committees of the UT have been asked to allow and facilitate functioning of such Collection and Sale Centres without any hindrance, the spokesman said.

Similarly, the UT's principal agriculture product, the Jammu basmati rice, has been certified as “Safe for Pesticides Residual Limits” by Quality Control & Quality Assurance Division of the Indian Institute of Integrative e-Medicine under the CSIR.

The CSIR had earlier collected 184 samples of basmati rice from its growers of in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts and had certified them for their purity, the spokesman added.

A report issued by the IIIM in this regard will be shared with the Agriculture and Processed Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and other relevant forums for promoting and popularizing the Jammu basmati rice and further removing bottlenecks in its export.

In another major move to reduce Covid-19 pandemic distress of farmers, JK Industries is to procure 60,000 kg of grade A and grade B cocoon from Jammu division and 50,000 kg from Kashmir division.

Meanwhile, concerted efforts are being made to develop horticulture and related activities in Jammu region by way of several government interventions.

The potential tapping of high density and ultra high density plantation for apple, kiwi, peach, grapes and walnut is the main focus of the government.

These fruits have huge potential in hilly areas of Kishtwar, Doda, Poonch, Rajouri, Udhampur, Reasi, Ramban and Kathua, the spokesperson said.

The services of Centre for Excellence for Horticulture are being utilized to promote the fruit growing in all types of regions of Jammu division.

Upgrading the infrastructure of the fruit and vegetable market on modern lines with all the necessary facilities has been prioritized.

The State Level Project Screening Committee (SLPSC) on Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY-RAFTAR), has recently approved the annual action plan envisaging mobilization of farmers producer organizations (FPOs) and promotion of local specialty crops, value addition, organic farming, farm mechanization and promoting agri-business entrepreneurship.

Aadhar seeding and 100 per cent assistance transfer through DBT for all beneficiary- oriented schemes have also been stressed upon.

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