Apple Cluster for Shopian

Tourism and Horticulture have been the mainstay of Jammu and Kashmir. The climate and soil of Kashmir and parts of Jammu Division are suited to produce the best varieties of apples. Year after year bumper crops of horticulture produce have been the hallmark despite terrorism for decades, factually horticulture has been the only one with an upward graph all these decades. GoI and LG Administration has come up with various schemes to get the best prices for apple orchid growers. Even during the turbulent year of lockdown during the abrogation of Article 370 Kashmir apple got purchased through centrally sponsored NAFED for all three grades of apple. Subsidised air transportation and international tie-up with Lulu group to market Kashmir apple with other products have given excellent results. Even a Horticulture University has been established in Kashmir to give further impetus to horticulture production. Now Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) has approved the “Apple Cluster” for the Shopian district, under Cluster Development Programme. One hundred thirty-five crores have been earmarked for three verticals including pre-production-production, post-harvest management and value addition and logistics, marketing and branding to make it globally competitive. Shopian being an apple belt will immensely benefit as capacity building of cold storage will help get the best price for the produce. Much help will be these cold storage chains in case of frequent NH 44 closure. New varieties, organic farming, and reduction in pesticide usage are already covered under 29 points program devised. Over all LG Administration is trying to upgrade and increase agriculture production and set up associated enterprises to increase income as well as generate employment. Shopian being one of the worst terrorist-affected districts, this ‘Apple Cluster’ program will be of immense help to unemployed youth. No effort is being left to provide the best opportunities to the youth. New schemes are being planned and introduced with the simple aim of holistic development. Plans have been announced, local administration will roll out detailed schemes, now it is for the public to respond and grab the opportunity.