Horticulture Deptt ‘fails’ Kashmiris, farmers say save us from losses

Horticulture Deptt ‘fails’ Kashmiris, farmers say save us from losses
Raouf Dar 
SRINAGAR Sep 19: Authorities at Horticulture Department Kashmir may be making tall claims they were working for development of this vital sector but the ground situation tells a different story with farmers unhappy over the functioning of the department.
Every day authorities have been issuing statements that they were providing all possible help to farmers. Take instance, authorities recently said that steps are underway for ensuring increase in horticultural produce of Jammu and Kashmir so that the quantum of fruit produce gets increased resulting in enhanced income of horticulturalists. They also reviewed Apple High density Programme.
Advisor to Lt. Governor, KK Sharma stressed to cover all the feasible areas under High Density Programme.
He said that “we have to ensure the successful implementation of the scheme so that all areas of Jammu and Kashmir are covered having potential of producing apples”.
However, farmers from different parts of Kashmir said they did not get any benefit under the scheme.
The Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS) visited various parts of Kashmir to know whether they have got any benefit by various schemes of the Horticulture Department.
Shabir Ahmad Khan, a resident of Gopalpora Mattan Anantnag said the Horticulture Department did not provide them with any varieties of hybrid plants.
“The Horticulture Department is only misleading the common masses. They give benefit only to their relatives,” Khan told KINS.
He said not a single official came to the area to review the losses due to deficit rainfall and scab disease.
The farmers are worried as rainfall deficit and scab infection have damaged crops in Kashmir.
Kashmir produces over 18 lakh metric tones of apples every year.
Farmers however said they fear over 50 percent damage to apples due to dry weather and scab disease.
“Reason for scab infection is substandard pesticides. There is no check on pesticides by the authorities,” another farmer Firdous Ahmad from Shopian said.
Tauqeer Ahmad, a resident of Gopalpora Mattan Anantnag too shared similar grievances.
“Horticulture Department did not provide any relief to this village and surrounding areas. No one is checking what kind of chemicals we are using. We are facing heavy losses but officials from the Horticulture Department are not concerned,” he added.
Residents from scores of villages like Brenti Dialgam,  Kambad, Kabamarg, Sagam, Kokernag, Kheribil from South Kashmir made similar grievances who said the Horticulture Department failed farmers in Kashmir and are only spending money on publicity.
Many farmers also said the department provided plant saplings to people but that too were poor quality. “Under a scheme, Department had to provide better quality saplings. But they only give saplings with poor quality saplings and have been procured from blue eyed persons at higher rates,” farmers claim.
Horticulture Officer Anantnag said people should visit his office to get benefit of various schemes.
“Once people approach us, we see the land feasibility whether high density plants can grow there and help farmers accordingly,” he added.(KINS)
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