Jammu- Jammu and Kashmir has recorded an eight-fold increase in controlled atmosphere (CA) storage since 2015-16, an official said on Saturday.
The Jammu and Kashmir government, in a bid to reduce post-harvest losses by increasing the shelf life of various agriculture and horticulture products besides addressing the issue of distress sale of crops by the farmers, has encouraged and aided private players to set up cold storage (CA) facilities.
Director General Horticulture Aijaz Ahmed Bhat said the efforts have resulted in 700 per cent increase in CA storage capacity from 25,000 MT in 2015-16 to 2 lakh MT in 2021-22, which is expected to be further increased by 25000 MT in the next year.
Establishment of CA stores has resulted in significant reduction of distress sales resulting in higher returns for the orchardists. There are 40 CA stores across Jammu and Kashmir with Industrial Growth Centre (IGC) in Lassipora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama alone having as many as 23 CA stores, he said.
Besides, there are 17 stores functioning in different districts including Shopian, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla and Jammu.
He said the government has taken several concrete steps for increasing Agriculture and horticulture production besides enhancing the quality of crops while laying special focus on post-harvesting management infrastructure, especially in the private sector.
Apples kept in cold storages in Kashmir help farmers to fetch much better rates by selling their production as per their will according to demand.
He said the government-aided cold stores would help in fetching higher rates to the A-grade apples in Kashmir which amount to around 8 lakh metric tonne.
Earlier, these apples used to be sold at less than their actual value due to inadequate availability of CA stores in the valley.
Bhat said the department is committed towards strengthening the post harvest infrastructure in the valley.
We are exploring every possible opportunity to have infrastructure like CA stores, processing units and related utilities developed across the Valley and best services are provided to the orchardists, he added.
At present, he said, we are encouraging new entrepreneurs to set up CA storage capacity with government support to cater to the annual production which otherwise would result in distress sales. As per available data, Kashmir produces 20 lakh metric tonnes of apples annually.
Ali Muhammad Bhat, a farmer, says that setting up of cold storage system is not only benefitting the growers but consumers also.
“The local consumer pays higher rates for purchase of apples imported from other countries like the US and New Zealand but with a cold storage facility he can buy local apples for a reasonable price during any time of the year, Bhat said.
The recent visit of CEOs from several Gulf countries to Kashmir to explore the investment opportunities here will also help in creating post-harvest infrastructure in J&K.
In the past two years, a significant change is being witnessed in Jammu and Kashmir especially if I talk about the investment, industry and business, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said.
He said his administration discussed several areas and issues. We have identified their (CEOs’) concerns and assured them of their redressal in minimum time period especially in the Health and Medical Education, Real Estate, Hospitality, Food processing, Cold storage and cold chain and education.
Sinha said the government is hopeful to bring an investment of over Rs 70,000 crore in next six months.
Last year, we had a total outside investment of Rs 15000 crore. By now, we have cleared investment proposals of around Rs 27000 crore, he said, asserting that we hope that in next six months, it will cross Rs 70,000 crore .
Sinha said when the investments take place on ground, it would generate a minimum of six to seven lakh jobs in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir on an average produces over 20 lakh metric tonne of apple every year and it is expected that it will jump over to 25 lakh metric tonne production in next few years.
The 2017 economic survey in J&K said that half of Kashmir’s population is directly or indirectly dependent on the apple industry and over 3.5 lakh hectare are under apple cultivation.