State Minister for Horticulture deserves kudos for informing the Assembly that a high profile and ambitious programme of boosting horticulture industry in the State is on the anvil. He has disclosed aspects of the new enterprise which, if these are faithfully implemented, will change the very face of horticulture in the State. It is to be noted with much interest that about 7 lakh farming families with 33 lakh people of the State are involved with horticulture production in one or the other way. At the same time, the industry has generated a total wage employment of 7.71 crore man days in the year 2016-17 under apple orchards and others, coming out as one of the major sources for direct and indirect employment generation in the State. Horticulture sector has fairly expanded over the years and at present nearly area of 3.38 lakh hectares are under horticulture production activity.
The important aspect of horticulture sector pertains to modernization and upgrading of horticulture production especially the Kashmir apple which has the countrywide reputation. The Department intends to address the issue of improvement of quality and quantity without losing the intrinsic specialty of Kashmir fruits be it the apple and walnut of the valley or the apricot of Leh and Kargil or the mango and oranges of Jammu region. Even horticulture units in all districts will be given a boost as per the statement of the Minister.
We congratulate the Horticulture Minister for having a meaningful vision of the future development of horticulture sector in the State. But at the same time we want that certain questions posed by the members during the debate should also be given full attention. It is important that in a bid to improve the quantity of the horticulture produce, the quality of the fruit should be preserved in any case. The complaint of fake spray oil is a serious one and the department should take care of it. While the department has mobile soil testing facility, it should be made available readily on request by any of the horticulturist in any part of the State and the technical advice from the scientists should also be provided to the growers how to improve the productivity of the soil on which fruit trees are planted.