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Horticulture varsity; a delusion or a reality?

“We used to listen to a lot of noise about this heart, but when it was squeezed, it yielded not a drop of blood” ….is what the legendary poet, Galib had aptly said about the difference between casuistry and actuality. Literary analogy notwithstanding, the same scenario seems about setting up of a Horticulture University, the first ever, in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the announcement about which was made more than two years back. The need to know the new, conduct research working, exploring newer and scientific means, learning  techniques to increase productivity and last but not the least, arm it with better marketing  opportunities and even exports – are a few pressing requirements which a full fledged Horticulture University would provide  and ensure on regular basis.
Horticulture plays a pivotal role in the economy of a nation. It has inherent importance in  benefits like high export value, increased per unit area yield, high returns, utilization of wasteland, sustaining many industries by providing raw material, high nutrition food value, comparative less input costs, providing employment opportunities- seasonal and otherwise,  and the like. Are all these benefits otherwise motivating the authorities to look sharp in setting up the University being conveniently deferred and postponed if not totally ignored? If not, then how is it that as on date, even the elementary modalities and financial implications are not worked out, even not started at all ? It is in spite of all assurances of help and support from the Union Government in establishing of the University.
It may be recalled that the announcement regarding establishment of a Horticulture University, the first of its kind in the state, was made by the then Minister for Horticulture in 2015 while chairing a high level meeting of Horticulture Department officers at Srinagar. Not only this, even establishment of Specialized Horticulture Training Institutes was announced to support and strengthen the capacity building in this key sector of our economy. The Balance Sheet of all these announcements depicts its other side to balance it completely “missing”.
To increase the annual yield of horticulture produce of Rs 7000 crore to over Rs. 40000 crore, as per projections based on realistic inputs, such a University in the state was imperative. The Union Minister who was reportedly contacted in July last year by the State Minister for Horticulture for the purpose had assured  to provide necessary financial and other related necessary support by the Central Government. Despite that things did not move as required.
Only early this year, a high powered committee was constituted for the purpose and to propose necessary amendments to be carried out in the SKUAST Act 1982. The committee has not met for the second time even thereafter, leaving to wild guesses or surmises as to when the entrusted task to this committee was going to be accomplished. A top functionary of the Horticulture Department lamented for no headway being made despite the lapse of two years. After all, in the Government set up, things keep on moving at a peculiar familiar pace and one could not expect desirable results in just one meeting of the high powered committee. In other words, the dream of Horticulture University was unlikely to come true in the near future as the same old approach of feeling shy of decisions making in innovative manner and fixing time schedules followed by adhering to them strictly were still in embryo stage in the State Administration. What is needed is a turnaround in real and apparent form.

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