ZT News Network

SRINAGAR May 15: All is set for Jammu & Kashmir to get its first-ever Centre of Excellence in horticulture. The centre based at Zawoora heights near Srinagar is nearing completion and is seen as one of the brightest examples of public-private partnership in J&K.

Fruit Master Agro Fresh, one of Kashmir’s most enterprising companies in value-added horticulture, is building the project under a special public-private partnership. Department of Horticulture, Kashmir, which is overseeing the development of the centre, is optimistic about the centre playing a crucial role in horticulture sector in future.

The centre will have facilities for the production of high quality fruit plants, micro-irrigation, high-tech greenhouse technology, tissue culture labs, bio-control labs and weather forecasting station, besides facilities to analyze fruit diseases like scabies, leaf curl, brown rot, etc as well as training to the staff.

Manzoor Ahmad Lone, Secretary, Agriculture Production Department, has personally ensured that the land for the centre was arranged and the key requirements for the centre to be met under the central government’s Centre of Excellence scheme were met.

A presentation being made about the project by the Horticulture Department to Advisor Skandan at the centre. Javed Ahmad, Chief Horticulture Officer, Srinagar and Faisal Burza, an executive of the Fruit Master Agro Fresh, made a detailed presentation to the visitors. (ZT photo)

Advisor to Governor K Skandan held an extensive tour of the Centre and also the Controlled Atmosphere Cold Store unit at Industrial Growth Centre (IGC) Lassipora Pulwama to review the the functioning of these units.

At Zawoora, the Advisor and other visitors, including Manzoor Ahmad Lone, Principal Secretary, Agriculture Production Department, J&K, held an extensive tour of the centre and inspected various terraces of high-density Apple orchard, plum orchard, apricot orchard and cherry orchard of improved varieties.

The visitors were informed that the centre is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 9.24 crore.

The Advisor was told about the latest technologies of greenhouse for multiplication and high-density apple orchard with the latest technology to enhance productivity.

Chief Horticulture Officer, Srinagar and one of the executives of Fruit Master Agro Fresh explaining various technical issues related to the company’s hand-holding in the project.

The visitors also inspected walnut germplasm bank having different varieties of walnut, where Director of Horticulture, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat explained various facets of the planned work in developing improved walnut varieties.

At IGC Lassipora, the visitors inspected Controlled Atmosphere Cold Store of ‘Fruit Masters Agro Fresh’ and other stores. Maajid Wafai, president CA Cold Store Association of J&K appraised the visitors about the work of the cold stores and the challenges being faced. The visitors also inspected different sections of the storing unit and was satisfied with the facilities being provided there.

Mehmood Ahmad Shah, Director Industries Department, Kashmir; Syed Aijaz Andrabi, Director, Agriculture, Kashmir; Arjimand Hussain Talib, Founder Ziraat Times and MD HMPC in conversation about the future role of the centre in value addition in the primary economy of J&K. The visiting officials evinced keen interest in the project. (ZT Photo)

On the occasion, Advisor Skandan said that the Government is committed to increase growers’ income by increasing the shelf life of the fruit.

Later, a presentation was given to the visitors wherein they were informed that around 21 MT of apples were produced in the state during 2018-19 and that have contributed 70% to the national market.

Advisor Skandan, Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce, Naveen Choudhary; Secretary APD, Manzoor Ahmad Lone, Mehmood Ahmad Shah, Director Industries Kashmir; Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, Director, Horticulture Department visiting various Controlled Atmosphere Stores at Lassipora, South Kashmir.

The visitors were also informed that one lakh MT has come up and the state requires additional three Lakh MT of CA storage to increase the holding capacity to avoid distress sale. The advisor assured that the Government will take all possible steps to boost the horticulture sector as it contributes immensely to the state’s economy.

Director Industries and Commerce Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah and Arjimand Hussain Talib, Founder Ziraat Times visiting various terraces of the centre (ZT photo)

Navin Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce, Secretary Horticulture, Manzoor Ahmed Lone, Director Horticulture, Ajaz Ahmed Bhat, Director Agriculture , Altaf Aijaz Andrabi, Director Industries and Commerce Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Syed Abid Rashid Shah and other officers accompanied the Advisor during the visit.

Faisal Burza, an executive of the Fruit Master Agro Fresh, one of the architects of the centre explaining the various operational issues of the centre to the visitors (ZT Photo)