PR No – 459
20th September, 2023
Dr Arun Kumar Mehta (IAS), Chief Secretary, J&K UT Government Highlights J&K’s Horticulture Potential, Digitalization Progress, Improved EODB ranking, and Cold Chain Expansion Target of 5 lakh mt at PHDCCI’s India Cold Chain Conclave – Himalayan Chapter Unveiling New Horizons
Addressing the cold chain event, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta (IAS), Chief Secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory Government, outlined the challenges faced in 2019, specifically underscoring the critical need for adequate cold storage facilities to efficiently store and market apples at optimal times and prices. Dr. Mehta stressed how the availability of cold storage facilities empowers farmers in negotiating their produce in the market.
He highlighted that as per data from Niti Ayog, Jammu and Kashmir currently ranks fifth in terms of agricultural and allied income but expressed a strong desire to propel the region to the number one position. He emphasized that this growth should primarily be driven by the private sector, with the government’s role focused on regulation rather than direct service delivery. Dr. Mehta also showcased the success of various agricultural programs and district-level export initiatives, citing the notable achievement of Ganderbal, which recorded a significant export figure of 58 crore.
Further delving into the realm of cold chain technology, Dr. Mehta shared that in 2019, the cold chain’s capacity stood at approximately 1.25 lakh metric tonnes, which has nearly doubled today. However, he expressed his belief that this capacity should ultimately reach 5 lakh metric tonnes. He urged industry stakeholders to strategize and plan for adding an additional 3 lakh metric tonnes to the sector, assuring them of the government’s support and commitment. Dr. Mehta also highlighted the remarkable progress made by Jammu and Kashmir in terms of ease of doing business and the proliferation of digital services.
Expanding on this progress, he noted that Jammu and Kashmir have transitioned from being ranked 22nd in ease of doing business to becoming top achievers in a short span of 1 to 1.5 years. Speaking about the digitalization journey of the region, he proudly announced that Jammu and Kashmir now stand no 1 position in the country, offering 1033 digital services, surpassing all other states and Union Territories compared to the position of 35 in 2019. He commended Jammu and Kashmir for this remarkable level of digitization, emphasizing that digitalization represents a significant empowerment, particularly following democratic decentralization.
Digital is the biggest empowerment that has happened after the democratic decentralization, he concluded
Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar, Advisor to the Honorable Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, described the region as being on a rapid path towards peace, stability, growth, and development, extending a warm invitation for investment in this burgeoning area. He characterized Jammu and Kashmir as a “sunrise region,” signifying that the present moment presents the most opportune time to invest and actively participate in the region’s growth and development.
Mr. Bhatnagar stressed the importance of concentrating on the entire value chain, emphasizing that achieving the goal of becoming the world’s third-largest economy requires a holistic approach, encompassing various sectors. He also engaged in discussions regarding the expansion of fisheries and products with Geographical Indication (GI) tags, assuring the government’s unwavering support for these endeavors.
Furthermore, Mr. Bhatnagar delved into the details of the Holistic Agriculture Development Plan, underlining the significant investments and programs tailored for diverse sectors. He expressed optimism that the conclave would contribute substantial value to Jammu and Kashmir’s various sectors and overall economy.
Sh. Priya Ranjan, Joint Secretary of the Department of Agriculture in the Government of India, articulated a comprehensive perspective on the sector, emphasizing that it should be viewed holistically, with cold storage being just one component. He underscored the government’s commitment to clean technology and the need to establish an efficient and effective cold chain while concurrently addressing horticultural production. He emphasized that the development of the cold chain cannot occur in isolation.
Mr. Ranjan also highlighted the necessity of addressing bottlenecks within the production system, particularly the capacity for producing planting materials, which currently falls short.
Elaborating on the government’s initiatives, he announced the impending establishment of a large plant entry quarantine facility on the campus of SKUAST, funded by the ministry, and slated to be operational by November of the current year. He encouraged the industry to make optimal use of this forthcoming facility.
Mr. Ranjan further elaborated on the Clean Plant Program, disclosing that the Government of India has entered into an agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), involving a substantial borrowing of approximately 2,200 crores, to establish a system of clean plants in the country, focusing on 8 horticultural crops, including apples.
He expressed the aspiration that, in a few years, a prominent clean plant center would be established in Srinagar, Kashmir, obviating the need for importing large quantities of planting material. He assured that the government is committed to providing capital support for the creation of world-class nurseries that would supply high-quality planting material to farmers. Additionally, efforts are underway to implement a certification system under the Clean Plant Program, ensuring that the material provided to farmers adheres to the specified standards. This initiative aims to resolve issues faced by farmers and enhance overall production.
Mr. Ranjan also anticipated strong integration within the entire value chain system, citing the Government of India’s initiation of a cluster program featuring 12 pilot clusters, one of which is located in Shopian. He expressed the hope of establishing more such clusters in the future, which would prove to be financially rewarding for farmers.
Sh. Ghulam Rasool Mir (JKAS), Director of Horticulture in Kashmir, emphasized the pivotal role played by the horticulture sector in the economy of Jammu and Kashmir. He provided insights into the evolution of controlled atmospheric cold storage facilities in the region, tracing their journey from inception in the early 2000s to their current impressive capacity of 2 lakh 6 thousand metric tonnes.
Mr. Rasool delved into the progression of government assistance programs, starting with the Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States and progressing to the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH). He explained that a comprehensive analysis revealed the need to address slow progress and revise assistance rates. In recognition of the vital importance of cold storage and related infrastructure, the government of Jammu and Kashmir approved an additional assistance of Rs 7.27 crores for cold storage projects.
He further highlighted substantial plans for expanding cold storage capacity, including proposals for 32 thousand and 50 thousand metric tonne projects that are currently awaiting approval. Mr. Rasool anticipated that this expansion would elevate the capacity to a remarkable 2 lakh 90 thousand metric tonnes. He also noted the growing demand for cold storage facilities, attributed to the introduction of high-density apple plantations characterized by significantly higher productivity and a majority of A-grade quality apples. This upward trend is expected to further drive the necessity for additional cold storage facilities in the region.
Sh. Vicky Shaw, Chair of the Kashmir Region for PHDCCI, expressed that they are presented with an exceptional opportunity to refine their practices and elevate cold chain technology to unprecedented levels. He conveyed sincere appreciation to the National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) for their unwavering guidance and support, acknowledging their pivotal role in advancing cold chain technology in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Shaw discussed the significance of the sessions, highlighting their potential to impart valuable knowledge and practical strategies that can be readily implemented to enhance operations and increase efficiency, thereby fostering sustainable growth. He also encouraged all participants to actively participate in the follow-up sessions that stem from today’s event.
Sh. Majid Wafai, President JKPICCA, expressed heartfelt gratitude for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and the Joint Secretary for their pivotal role in facilitating the conference. Reflecting on the remarkable growth of the cold chain sector in Kashmir over the past decade, he highlighted it as one of the few industries that has witnessed substantial investment and development. Mr. Wafai underscored that the existence of this industry owes much to the steadfast support of the government.
Furthermore, he commended the unwavering dedication of farmers and traders in transforming this sector into a promising one. Mr. Wafai emphasized the paramount importance of conscientious energy usage and the adoption of environmentally-friendly technologies, proposing that the National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) should consider making this event an annual tradition to further focus government attention on the sector. He expressed optimism that the outcomes of the session could potentially lead to the formulation of beneficial policies for the industry.
Sh. Asheesh Fotedar, Chief Operating Officer of NCCD, underscored the imperative for innovation within cold chain technologies, recognizing its significance in preparing for the challenges of the future. He highlighted the pivotal role that NCCD plays in championing farmers and the industry to attain global leadership status. Mr. Fotedar also brought attention to the continuous research efforts aimed at enhancing energy efficiency and the critical importance of implementing uniform and standardized protocols. He earnestly requested support from all stakeholders in these endeavors and encouraged industry collaboration as a means to expedite progress.
Professor Nazir Ahamd Ganai, Vice Chancellor of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in Kashmir, emphasized the transformative potential of a consultative process. He highlighted how such a process not only shifts our mindsets but also fosters the development of unique technologies that can significantly contribute to bolstering Jammu and Kashmir’s economy.
Professor Ganai set an ambitious target of doubling the agricultural GDP within the next five years. Looking further ahead, he envisaged that by 2047, the GDP of the region would surge from 40,000 crore to an impressive 800,000 crores.
The Vote of Thanks was delivered by Sh. Asheesh Fotedar, Chief Operating Officer of NCCD, while the moderation of the conclave was done by Mr. Mohit Luthra, Assistant Secretary General (ASG), PHDCCI and Ms. Aparajita Mangotra, Senior Secretary, PHDCCI.
PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry