Minister for Horticulture Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari today directed the department to initiate immediate works to attain self sufficiency in quality planting material and for boosting processing, preservation enterprises in the state.‘For this, a twofold approach needs to be taken, viz., development of departmental nurseries in line with scope of the respective Agro-Climatic Zones under existing schemes for maximizing State’s Horticulture output and facilitating marketing measures of fresh as well as dry produce’.The Minister said this while chairing a meeting to review the functioning of Horticulture department in both divisions and the functioning of Horticulture Planning and Marketing department in the State.Minister of State for Horticulture Priya Sethi, Vice Chairperson State Horticulture Development Board Abdul Salam Reshi, Secretary Horticulture Manzoor Ahmad Lone, Director Horticulture Jammu Anuradha Gupta, Director Horticulture Kashmir Mohammad Hussain Mir, Director Horticulture Planning & Marketing Manzoor Ahmad Qadiri, Director Finance Horticulture P.S Rakwal, Director Law Enforcement Susheel Sahni, Managing Director JKHPMC Dr Kabir Dar, Joint Director Horticulture Jammu Tarvinder Singh, Joint Director Horticulture Kashmir Lokesh Kumar Bali, DDs, CHOs, DHOs, SMSs and other district officers from concerned departments were present in the meeting.
Taking detailed review of on-ground performance of the department for Kashmir and Jammu divisions, the Minister said that mandate of the department is to facilitate growers with technical knowledge, machinery, marketing avenues; the performance regarding this has been insufficient on-ground.‘The Government will take all measures to protect the interests of growers. Therefore, to streamline department’s performance on-ground, hence forth, employees’ career progression will be linked with their annual performance’, the Minister directed.Bukhari passed strict directions to officers to exercise powers vested to them at their own level. He said that district officers should take onus of their charge and not shy away from their duties. He asked them to desist from passing on matters that can be resolved at their own levels to higher authorities without cause.He asked the officers to ensure judicious and timely utilization of funds released under various state and centrally sponsored schemes besides providing timely utilization certificates to be forwarded to central agencies for further release of funds.The Minister set a deadline for 1st week of august for every financial year for submitting utilization certificates to the directorate.He also directed for departmental nurseries to be setup and developed as ‘Areas of Excellence’ to provide quality fruit sapling to growers for crops including walnut, citrus, litchi in the state. He asked the officers to explore area wise scope for development of the sector throughout the state so that maximum available potential can be tapped.He also asked the department to prepare a comprehensive report in consultation with SUKAST exploring the scope of olive crops in the state, their components, cost value analysis, processing avenue as well as the required branding and marketing needs for the produce. The report is to be submitted within 15 days, he directed.
Bukhari also directed the officers to undertake periodic quality checks, regular inspections at certified nurseries and Controlled Atmosphere units to ensure that these units are functioning properly and that the growers are being provided with all necessary facilities. He also directed for a mechanism to be devised to take strict action against erring units.Further, the Minister directed the department to identify necessities at ground level and launch targeted marketing interventions for growers, like setting up fruit mandies for unorganized walnut growers at Banihal, Uri, reviving defunct mandies at doda and other locations.The Minister asked for renewed measures to promote setting up of low cost preservation units across the state. He said that this will not only facilitate growers by providing them processing units at close distance but also generate quantum of employment. He asked the department to tie up with organizations like EDI, WDC for effective implementation of this initiative on ground.He also advocated for timely skill development programmes for growers as well as for a holistic training policy for officials and officers of the department.Taking note of the delays in making two new Pesticide labs fully functional, the Minister directed for immediate manpower augmentation to be taken for the facilities and to be made functional within a fortnight.He also asked for activities taken up by the law enforcement wing to be regularly updated online, besides the district departmental officers to be intimated on the same for proper enforcement.During the meeting, the Minister laying stress on the importance of raising awareness among populace, directed for devising a strong public information dispensation mechanism at the earliest. For this, he directed for periodic departmental newsletters, magazines, documentary features to be created and issued to educate the people. Besides, broadcast media outlets need to be roped in and strong ties created, as mediums including television and radio have a massive public outreach, he added.It was also decided in the meeting that a conference will be conducted with the growers from the state who have undergone training in other states to take their feedback and views. Further, various district officers were also directed to create an updated database of progressive growers so that they can be facilitated with departmental support and interventions.