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After 37 years, Govt to conduct in-depth census of horticulture sector

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Mar 1: Government has embarked on an ambitious exercise of delineating the exact land area under horticulture production in the State to create a reliable data bank and plan for the development of this key economic sector accordingly. The last such census according to official records was conducted in 1980-81.
To create a reliable data bank regarding the exact land area under horticulture, the Government has, on the initiative of Minister for Horticulture, Syed Basharat Bukhari, constituted separate official panels at divisional and zonal levels, with the mandate of revisiting the physical composition of existing horticulture zones and to carry out extensive fruit tree census across the State.
According to the orders issued by the Government in this regard, the Divisional Level Committees to revisit the physical composition of the existing horticulture zones in the State will be headed by the respective Directors of Horticulture in Jammu/Kashmir Divisions with Chief Horticulture Officers and the District Horticulture Officers of the concerned districts as members.
The terms of reference of these committees include, besides revisiting the physical composition of the existing horticulture zones with respect to the area under horticulture, contiguity and operational convenience as well. The committees will furnish their recommendations to the Government within 15 days.
Similarly, as per another order, Zone Level committees to carry out the fruit tree census in the concerned zones will be headed by Horticulture Development Officer of the concerned zone. The Horticulture Technician of the concerned zone will be the member of the committee. The committee can co-opt any other official/expert as co-opted member.
These committees will carry out extensive fruit tree census in the concerned zones and furnish village-wise/fruit crop-wise details under each crop to the Government through the concerned Directorates. The concerned Chief Horticulture Officer of each district will supervise the census.
The committees have been asked to complete the census by the end of April in Jammu division and by the end of May in Kashmir division.
According to official records, the last extensive horticulture census in the State was conducted in 1980-81 and since then the horticulture sector has witnessed massive transformation across all the regions of the State.
“In the absence of any reliable and updated data on the exact area under horticulture in the State, the developmental planning for this key sector has always remained lopsided,” Basharat Bukhari said. He said as and when the Government has a reliable data bank in place regarding the exact area under horticulture activity in each district and division, the planning for development and distribution of resources could be worked out accordingly.
The Minister said the horticulture census would help the department to effectively focus on area expansion programmes, rejuvenation of old and senile orchards, implementation of plant protection measures, strengthening of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of farm mechanization,  capacity building of orchardists, propagating quality plant material, conservation and dissemination of germ plasm and providing incentives to the entrepreneurs for establishment of food processing units/CA storage under post harvest management.

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