Governor N.N. Vohra, Chancellor of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST-K), chaired the 33rd Council meeting of SKUAST-K, at the Raj Bhavan. Ghulam Nabi Lone, Minister for Agriculture, Syed Basharat Ahmad Bukhari, Minister for Horticulture and Abdul Ghani Kohli, Minister for Animal, Sheep Husbandry & Fisheries participated in the meeting.Chancellor released three recent publications of the University: “Cultivation of Poplars in Kashmir”, “Experimental Agrometerology: A Practical Manual”, and “Apple Production & Value Chain Analysis”.In view of the adoption of high density apple orchards in the valley which will increase the apple production by 5 times of the present yield, Chancellor advised Minister for Horticulture to evolve at least a medium term logistical plan for the grading, storage, packaging, marketing and transportation of the enormously increased horticultural produce. Sh. Bukhari informed Chancellor that budgetary support has been enhanced for setting up Controlled Atmosphere Stores and providing refrigerated vans and 5 new Horticulture Nurseries are proposed to be established in the current financial year.Chancellor advised VCs of both the State Farm Universities to develop varieties of seeds which are drought resistant and also urged the Ministers of speedily changing climatic patterns, for which seeds shall need to be prepared to change the existing cropping pattern and sow alternate crops.
He also stressed the importance of mapping the entire Kashmir Valley to identify and earmark areas where particular crops and fruit orchards could be propagated.Chancellor urged Horticulture Minister to put in place an effective quarantine and monitoring mechanism to check the quality of plant materials being imported in to the State so that only high quality disease free plants are provided to the farmers.Earlier, Vice Chancellor Dr. Nazeer Ahmed made a detailed presentation on the various activities of his University and informed the Council that the University has taken various new initiatives since the last meeting viz.University has been identified as a nodal centre for maintaining highland cold tolerant maize gremplasm; fully implemented 5th Dean’s Committee Report Recommendations; 23 new research projects sanctioned by various funding agencies; poultry seed project for augmentation of poultry infrastructure established under ICAR; developed a Horti-Poultry integrated farming system for increasing profitability of farmers; 45 students selected through On- Campus placement initiative; 3 MoUs executed with private organizations for collaborative work and their fellowship obtained for Master’s research and also signed an MoU with JK Bank for providing Agro-Advisories on Apple through Electronic media ( mobile SMSs) which cover about 6 lakh farmers having bank accounts in J&K Bank.VC informed that the Controlled Atmosphere Storage facility of 90,784 MTs has already come up in the State to enable enhancing the shelf life of Apple; the University has initiated programme for identifying genotypes which are suitable for being used as brown rice (unpolished) and red rice (Lal Chawal or Kamad Zag), rich in Iron and Zinc and a revival programme is being undertaken at Khudwani Centre since 2015.
University has established an Olive orchard at Shalimar where nineteen varieties are being evaluated for their suitability in the region.Further the University has released 72 crop varieties and hybrids and their breeder seed is made available to Agriculture Department who are further using this for multiplying to Foundation and Certified Seeds and supplying to farmers.Using new high yielding varieties, the crop yields have almost doubled in most of the crops. Besides, the varieties rich in quality like Mushkibudji, Kamad Zag & Pusa basmati in rice; QPM in maize and protein and vitamin rich pulses and vegetables are being promoted on a large scale.For direct supply of quality seeds to farmers, University has opened seed sale outlets in every Faculty and at the KVK’s while at main campus Shalimar the seeds are sold through online net banking directly to the farmers, from ATIC. The University has designed short term courses to increase the employability of the candidates. These include: One year Certificate course in Landscape Gardening and Park Maintenance, PG in Horti-business Management, One year PG Diploma in Agriculture Extension Management in collaboration with MANAGE, GOI Hyderabad, One year certificate course in Basic Horticulture training, Forty five days Skill Development Certificate course on Mushroom Production, Beekeeping, and Skill development course in Food Processing.Among those who attended the meeting were Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to the Governor; Navin Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary Finance; Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary Planning; Dr. Pradeep Kumar Sharma, Vice Chancellor, SKUAST-Jammu; Manzoor Ahmad Lone, Secretary Horticulture; Showket Ahmad Beigh, Secretary Agriculture; and Prof. M.H. Wani, Registrar, SKUAST- Kashmir.