SRINAGAR, July 24: To improvise the varieties and productivity of apple crop in the State, Jammu and Kashmir government has set a target of bringing about 100 hectares of orchard land under high density plantation in Kashmir during ensuing season.
The State Government has already floated global tenders for procurement of quality high density plant material of apples and has started negotiations with the foreign suppliers who have evinced interest in export of plant material to J&K.
The Horticulture Minister, Mr Abdul Rehman Veeri today had a marathon meeting with the representatives of GRIBA Company of Italy in this regard. GRIBA is the Europe’s largest apple plant producer with over two million plants being exported by the company annually.
During the meeting the GRIBA showed its willingness to supply quality plant material from Italy, besides imparting technical knowhow to the fruit growers and horticulture officials of the State.
Minister for R&B and Floriculture, Syed Altaf Ahmad Bukhari, Commissioner Secretary, Agriculture Production, Mr Mohammad Ashraf Bukhari, Director HP&M, Director Horticulture, Kashmir were also present in the meeting.
During the discussions between the State officers and representatives of GRIBA, it was made clear that the company must come up with Expression of Interest for establishment of high density orchards on turnkey basis in private public partnership mode in Kashmir.
It was also decided that the project based establishment of such orchards will facilitate training to the local fruit growers including the officials of Horticulture Department for conducting orchard management operations like training, pruning and plant protection measures for production of quality apple crop at par with the advanced countries in the world.
The Italian Company representative said that GRIBA, which is Europe’s largest apple nursery are harvesting not less than 100 MTs apple per hectare with an average productivity of 70 MTs per hectare. He said the Company recently also started a fruit trading division in Italy and India and will try to tap the booming fruit trade market in India, be it fruit imports like apples as well as exports like cherries, mangoes or pears.
The Horticulture Minister said that the interventions made so far are with the clear objectives to enhance the production and productivity of quality apple fruit crops in the State to compete in the national and international markets with highest employment opportunities in horticulture sector.
The Minister said that horticulture has been prioritized as a thrust area by the State Government and all possible initiatives are being taken to boost it for economic revival of the State. He said the similarities in climate between European countries and Jammu and Kashmir make it possible to grow all types of high-value crops at very low cost.
The Minister said the new rootstocks will help improve the production of different fruits and will play pivotal role in replacing the old and senile orchards, adding it will improve the overall economy of the State.