Jammu [India], January 23 (ANI): The Jammu and Kashmir government has launched an ambitious project targeted at revolutionising the food-processing sector and transforming the lives of farmers in the Union Territory.
The ‘UT Level Food Processing Programme for Development of Clusters for Specific Products of J&K’ is a Rs 879.75-crore initiative that aims to maximise farmer income and minimise post-harvest losses, according to an official statement. This comprehensive project has been designed to increase the competitiveness of seven identified products across categories in terms of cost, quality, branding, and sustainability within five years.
The government is investing in value-addition, logistics, marketing and branding of various agriculture, horticulture and livestock products to achieve this goal, the statement released on Sunday evening said. The project will focus on developing 17 districts in Jammu and Kashmir with the establishment of processing and marketing infrastructure, providing growth and development opportunities to stakeholders and facilitating suitable economies of scale in production and post-harvest activities.
The government has allocated a budget of Rs 879.75 crore for the project including a grant-in-aid of Rs 293.25 crore (33.33 per cent) and a debt-equity of Rs 586.50 crore to be raised by entrepreneurs. The statement said the project shall create 7,030 direct jobs and lead to establishment of 34 enterprises with expected revenue generation to the tune of Rs 1,436.04 crore every year.
“UT Level Food Processing Programme for Development of Clusters for Specific Products of J&K” is one among the 29 projects, which were 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 UT of J&K. The committee is headed by Mangala Rai, Former DG, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and has other luminaries in the field of agriculture, planning, statistics and administration like Ashok Dalwai, CEO NRAA; P K Joshi, Secretary, NAAS; Prabhat Kumar, horticulture commissioner the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare, H S Gupta, Former Director, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI); Atal Dulloo, Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture Production Department, besides Vice Chancellors of twin agriculture universities of the UT.
The programme will focus on seven products in 17 districts/clusters including milk for Jammu and Pulwama; walnut for Kupwara and Kishtwar, Basmati for RS Pura, Samba and Kathua; vegetables which can be conventional, organic, exotic and mushrooms for Doda, Budgam, Samba and Udhampur, meat and poultry for Srinagar and Kathua; Trout for Anantnag and Ganderbal, besides cherry for Ganderbal and Baramulla.
“This project represents a beacon of hope for farmers in Jammu and Kashmir, who have been facing challenges such as post-harvest losses that are generally in the range of 15-20 per cent and the wastage of 20 per cent of the total fruit produced due to non-availability of packaging and processing facilities and mismatch between production and post-harvest management,” Atal Dulloo, Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture Production Department, said. “The government’s investment in this project is expected to address these issues and help farmers to better price realisation and enhance their income by creating competitiveness across the entire value chain,” he added.
In the next five years, Jammu and Kashmir will have a dynamic food processing, food packaging and storage infrastructure with dedicated support services including farm-level logistics and transportation, marketing infrastructure and cluster branding, according to the official statement.