Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is rapidly becoming the export hub for agriculture and related products and trade and export policy (2018-2028) along with many government programs have given impetus to effective production and marketing strategies, creating new benchmarks for J&K in the international market. market. Over the past three years, the Union Territory has experienced record growth of around 55% in exports. Much of this percentage was made up of agricultural products.
Many export success stories are circling Jammu and Kashmir. Agri-entrepreneurs have spawned unique products such as saffron cold drinks, dispersible saffron kehwa tablets, apple crisps, apple powder, nut butter and mechanized nut processing line not shelled. J&K’s main agricultural exports include apples, barley, cherries, corn, millet, oranges, rice, peaches, pears, plums, walnuts, almonds, saffron, sorghum, wheat and vegetables. Exotic vegetables propagated for export to Europe include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, lettuce and red cabbage.
Renowned scientists and policy planners in the country under the chairmanship of Dr. Mangala Rai are preparing a futuristic roadmap for the accelerated development of agriculture and related sectors. 70% of J&K’s economy is based on agriculture, so there is immense potential to harness the real potential of agriculture and related sectors. The idea is to invest in crops that provide local food security and commercial export value. The addition of value to agricultural products, their processing, their packaging and their distribution in the market are planned for maximum profit per input.
A month ago, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurated a two-day multi-stakeholder convention on holistic development of agriculture and related sectors at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Center (SKICC) in Srinagar. This requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders to realize Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for J&K – food security, self-sufficiency and global leadership in agriculture. Under the PMFME (Prime Minister Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises) program of “One District, One Product”, J&K districts will singularly focus on the production of – Jammu – Dairy products; Rajouri – Spices; Poonch – mutton and poultry processing; Kishtwar and Doda – Processing of nuts; Ramban – Processing of honey; Udhampur – pickles and jam; Reasi – Organic Vegetables; Kathua – Spices; Samba – Mushrooms; Anantnag – Trout fish; Pulwama – Saffron; Shopian – Apple; Kulgam – Apple and Spices; Srinagar – Flowers; Budgam – Exotic vegetables; Baramulla – Dairy products; Kupwara – Walnut; Ganderbal – Honey; and Bandipora – processed poultry and mutton.
Beekeeping is one of the oldest jobs in the state. Locally grown honey has been traded for centuries given the flora of the valley. Beekeeping also allows the production of propolis, beeswax, bee venom, pollen and royal jelly. India being the sixth largest exporter of natural honey, beekeepers in the valley have a base ready to conquer international markets such as Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy and Spain. The Prime Minister’s Sweet Revolution for Beekeepers is a surefire strategy to increase farmer’s income by as little as 10% to 80%.
In July, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology (SKUAST-K), in collaboration with Vaikunth Mehta National Institute of Cooperative Management (VAMNICOM, Pune), organized a four-day training on agricultural export marketing for cooperatives and FPOs (Farmer-producer organization scheme). These training programs offer practical support to farmers new to the export business. Participants were equipped with in-depth knowledge and skills in various aspects of international marketing, with particular emphasis on the export of apple, walnut and saffron crops. To increase farmers’ incomes, SKUAST-K offers many short professional courses for skills development in the agro-processing sector.
As J&K is known to be a treasure trove of herbs, it is emerging as a brand name in the international market. Some of the widely exported herbs are: Dioscorea deltoidea (life-saving steroids); Echinacea angustifolia (immune system stimulants); Hypericum perforatum (antidepressant); Withania somnifera (nervous disorders); Aconitum heterophyllum (astringent/antidiabetic); Pyrethrum (insecticide); Atropa belladonna (antispasmodic); Podophyllum (cancer drug); Rosa Damascena Bulgaria (perfume); Levendula officinalis (aroma); Salvia sclarea (perfumery); and Cymbopogon/Lemongrass (medicinal, aromatic). The Union Territory is also witnessing a revolution in the cultivation of a particular crop that is in high demand – lavender. It is grown in all 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir as J&K offers the exact climatic conditions the cultivation demands.
Farmers are turning to growing and processing lavender because it can earn them five times their average income on the same land. Violet flowers are used for their therapeutic value in the form of oil and tea, nutrition, perfumery and medicine in homeopathy and Ayurveda. Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture, traditional farmers in the valley have switched to high-density fruit orchards such as Italian apples and pears. J&K’s horticultural products have won worldwide praise for their quality and taste.
In the current fiscal year, the Lieutenant Governor has emphasized organic and natural agriculture to maintain soil health and meet the growing demand for chemical-free products. Organic fertilizers such as compost manure, green manure, bone meal, biological pest control and encouragement of insectivorous rodents, in combination with planting techniques such as crop rotation, crop mixed and companion planting are encouraged. Last year, UT invited delegations from the Gulf and the Middle East to showcase its agricultural products. Kashmiri saffron, Kashmiri cherries of Mishri variety, Mushkbudji fragrant rice, acacia honey and sea buckthorn (juice, pulp, oil and tea) were sampled. They were instantly pre-ordered by all major hypermarkets such as the Lulu group. The Geographical Indications (GI) label acting as a mark of trust has contributed enormously to increasing the volume of exports.
By creating the necessary ecosystem to promote Atmanirbharta and collaborating with key stakeholders in agricultural export value chains, Jammu and Kashmir envisions a bright future. (ANI)
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