J&K launches Rs 879-crore food processing project

Jammu, Jan 23 (PTI) The Jammu and Kashmir government has launched a Rs 879-crore food processing project with an aim to revolutionise the food processing sector and change the lives of farmers in the Union Territory.

Under the Union Territory level programme for the development of clusters for specific products of Jammu and Kashmir, the initiative aims to maximize farmers’ income and minimise post-harvest losses, officials said.

The project is designed to increase the competitiveness of seven identified products across categories in terms of cost, quality, branding, and sustainability within five years, additional chief secretary, Agriculture Production Department (APD), Atal Dulloo said.

The government is investing in value-addition, logistics, marketing, and branding of various Agri, horticulture & livestock products to achieve this goal, he said.

The project will focus on developing 17 districts by establishing processing and marketing infrastructure, providing growth and development opportunities to stakeholders, and facilitating suitable economies of scale in production and post-harvest activities, Dulloo said.

The government has allocated 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, he 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, he added.

“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 an apex committee for holistic development of agriculture and allied sectors in J&K.

The programme will focus on seven products in 17 districts and clusters, including milk for Jammu and Pulwama; walnut for Kupwara and Kishtwar; basmati for R S Pura, Samba and Kathua; vegetables (conventional, organic, exotic and mushrooms) for Doda, Budgam, Samba and Udhampur; meat and poultry for Srinagar and Kathua; trout for Anantnag and Ganderbal; and cherry for Ganderbal and Baramulla.

“This project represents a beacon of hope for farmers in J&K, 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,” Dulloo said.

“The government’s investment in this project is expected to address these issues and help farmers to better price realisation and enhancing their income by creating competitiveness across the entire value chain,” he added.

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