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  • ‘New initiatives improving quality of education, results in govt schools’

JAMMU: Minister for School Education Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari today informed Legislative Assembly that the government  has referred 2154 teacher vacancies under Direct Recruitment Quota to J&K Service Selection Board (JKSSB) to fill these on fast-track basis. To overcome the shortage of teachers in the schools, the education department has identified more vacancies, which shall be referred to the JKSSB soon.


 ‘’The shortage of teachers has been addressed in majority of schools by undertaking massive rationalization exercise by the Department across the State and fresh recruitments will help to address the problem further,”  he added. Replying to a Question by Dina Nath Bhagat in the Assembly, the Minister further informed that in line with the Government Policy to improve quality of education and board results in 24000 Government schools, the Department has taken a slew of measures. “Our goal is to remove the notion that the students of Government schools are not in a disadvantageous position” he asserted.


The measures include amendment in the recruitment rules and revision of minimum qualification for the teacher from 10+2 to graduation, earmarking 30% posts for Science/Mathematics graduates, the Minister informed adding that to attract best talent in teaching profession, the Government is considering further amendment in the recruitment rules.

The Minister further told that with these initiatives, a gradual improvement in the pass percentage of students in government schools has been observed. To further enforce accountability and fix the responsibility, the   department takes stringent action against the teachers whose results are not up to mark. “The Chief Education Officers have been asked to keep tab on the performance of the teachers so that the students do not face any problem due to any lapse on the part of teaching staff,” he added.  

Replying to a specific question by the Member, the Minister said that no Teacher/Master from Chenani Constituency has been attached in the urban areas. He further revealed that no teacher has been engaged to manage the mid-day meal for the students, and same is being done by the Cook-cum-helpers engaged for the purpose. He said the teachers only maintain the record of mid-day meal and school funds.

However, he said Government is actively considering outsourcing of the mid-day meal scheme to some NGO. Sharing the concern of members over loss of studies due to deployment of teachers for non-teaching duties, the Minister informed that the department has taken up the issue with the General Administration Department to exempt them (teachers from election and other duties to   avoid the interruption in academic activities.

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JAMMU: Around 20 members   participated in the discussion on demand for Horticulture Department grants here this evening. Mohammad Yousuf Bhat initiated the discussion described the Horticulture as backbone of state’s economy. He said this sector helped to keep economy stable even during the tough times faced by the state. He said government is committed to uplift this sector and presenting a separate budget for horticulture bears testimony to its seriousness.


He said High density plantation launched by the government will prove a game changer for the socio-economic condition of the people associated with the sector. He called for introducing High Density plants in Shopian constituency in view of huge potential of the area. He called for expediting work on Satellite fruit Mandi and protection works around it taken up at a cost of Rs 28 crore at Shopian.

He also called for establishment of Mandi for Dry fruit at Shopian. He also called for establishment of sale stores, better traffic management to ensure transportation of fruit from orchards to the market, including through Mughal road. Haji Rasheed demanded upgrading of infrastructure and better freight transport in his home constituency Sopore, which he said is the largest producer of Fruit. He called for taking immediate steps for creation of infrastructure for the transportation of fruit from orchards to the market.


He said the sub standard and fake spray oils have ruined the fruit industry and urged the government act tough against the perpetrators. He said the frequent traffic jams on the roads leading to Fruit Mandi affect the transportation of fruit and urged the government for road widening that leads to the Mandi in Sopore.  He said there are many shops vacant in the Mandi and called for   allotment of the same to the deserving people.

Dr Krishenlal while taking part in the discussion also expressed concern over sale of fake and sub standard spray oils in the market. He also urged government to hold special training program for the orchardists to enable them to adopt scientific methods. He also called for taking steps to ensure more marketing facilities for the farmers so that they can sell their fruits on better rates. He urged the government to revive the nurseries that are lying defunct in his constituency.


Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen while taking part in the discussion said horticulture is the only industry that supported the states’ economy in peak turmoil years of 90s when all other sectors were shattered. He suggested for preservation of   traditional and natural fruit types including Ambur, Naakh etc by setting up its nurseries. He said Kashmir was known for these varieties of apple and hence these need to be preserved as the High Density plants are replacing the old varieties.


He also called for making available better marketing options, in-house special training programs for orchardists and liberal funding for early completion of Khan Sahib Fruit Mandi. Mubarak Gul called for regulation of fruit rates to save the orchardists from losses. He said with the import of dry fruit from other states and countries, the local farmers are getting badly hit. He urged the government to regulate the prices of the fruits to save the local industry. 


He also appealed government to allocate liberal funding to agro-industry and include it in the recent subsidy schemes enable this industry to flourish. He said uplift of Horticulture industry and the allied activities including processing of Juice,   packaging and other fruit dependent industries will accommodate a good   number of employed youth of the state. Mohammad Khalil Bandh urged the government for early completion of work on fruit Mandi Pulwama. He said 80 percent of people are dependent on this industry in his constituency and availability of market facility would help them greatly.  He called for liberal funding to the sector as according to him horticulture industry can   help in overcoming the problem of unemployment in the state. He also called for establishment of Dry Fruit Mandi in the area.


Mohammad Amin Bhat while taking aprt in the discussion urged the government to have a lift irrigation scheme for the orchards in his constituency as there is a huge crisis of irrigation. He said his constituency produces walnut in abundance and urged government to establish a dry fruit Mandi in Kond area where the land is available for free.  He also asked for constituting a monitoring committee and a special task force to curb the menace of fake spray oils.


Bashir Ahmad Dar while taking part in the discussion urged the government to intervene at every level to develop the horticulture sector while describing the sector as the jugular’s vein of the state’s economy. Shakti Raj Parihar said that development of horticulture guarantees bright future for the farmers.   He urged the government to organise awareness camps with regard to High Density plantation and usage of spray oils and to educate the orchardists about the modern and scientific techniques for better yield. He also called for providing modern farming tools on subsidized rates to the orchardists. He also called for establishment a fruit Mandi in Doda and construction of Water Harvesting tanks to ensure better irrigation for orchards.


Asgar Ali Karbali urged government to give industry status to the Horticulture sector. He said there was a nursery of different fruits in Kargil district some decades ago but there is no such nursery in present times. He urged government to establish an Apricot research Centre in Kargil. He urged government to lift ban on the export of fresh apricot, establishing processing unit for packaging of Apricots and cold storage. He also called for import of modified roots so that Apricot can be grown in other colder regions of the Ladakh region. He said it would help to increase overall yield.


Altaf Ahmad Wani said people are switching to horticulture sector as paddy is not generating income for them and urged the government to allow the people to convert agriculture land into horticulture land. “If agriculture is not yielding good returns to them (farmer) why should farmers opt for it?” he asked and urged the government to allow the conversion. He urged the government to come up with a better policy  for marketing of walnut in the state. He urged the government to work on the marketing of various fruits and dry fruits so that people can sell their product on better rates.


Yawar Ahmad Mir, while taking part in the discussion, said despite having largest Fruit Mandi, the Horticulture sector is in dilapidated condition in Baramulla district. He urged government to develop the Sopore Fruit Mandi on modern lines and modernise   Doabgah Juice plant so that it can be turned into profit generating unit. The legislator also appealed the government to provide better irrigation facilities to the orchards and introduce High Density Apple Plants in Baramulla district.


He called for creating awareness among orchards with regard to spray schedules and other cultivation techniques, besides creating awareness with regard to the insurance schemes and other related schemes.   He urged the government to focus on promotion of other fruits including strawberry, Pear, walnut to diversify the horticulture import. Dalip Singh Parihar, while taking part in discussion, said that Bhaderwah produces Ambri apple, walnut  and other fruits but less focus is being given towards the area. He appealed for establishment of a fruit Mandi in the  Bhaderwah and also urged the government to introduce High Density plants in the area . He also urged government to provide more green houses and other agricultural tools including power tillers etc to the people of his constituency. He demanded 100 percent subsidy for construction of tube wells for better irrigation facilities. He also appealed to have Fruit Bema policy on pattern of Crop Insurance Policy besides declaring Bhaderwah as Apple Town.


Mohammad Akbar Lone while taking part in the discussion hoped that the Horticulture sector would touch new heights   under the guidance of present Minister for Horticulture who hails from a region which is high fruit producing area.   He urged upon the government to restore the lost glory of this industry and take steps to ensure better yield in the sector. He called for proper management of the production, packaging, transportation, marketing and processing of fruits. He also called for increasing the quantity of tools being provided to the farmers and orchards on subsidized rates. He also called for waving of KCCI loans at the earliest  and revival of Juice processing unit in Doabgah Sopore. 


Sukhnandan Kumar urged the government to take steps to curb the sale and marketing of fake spray oils. He said Mudd is largest producer of leachy in Jammu and appealed government to announce a Mudd village in his constituency so that focussed attention was laid for its development. Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar urged for creating awareness among farmers with regard to implementation of modern farming techniques.


The legislator also called for providing subsidy to the farmers associated with the production of cherry, grapes, strawberry for quick transportation to the market as it has less shelf life. He also urged government to introduce High Density Plants in Ganderbal district, drip irrigation in Kandi belt of his constituency to increase fruit yeled in these areas.  Javid Hussain Beigh called for promotion of new variety of fruits adding till now the successive regimes have focused on apple only.   He urged government to focus on increasing the yield of other fruits as well.


He said the local market will face more challenges in future as better quality apples are coming in the market. He urged the government to concentrate on the quality regulation so that the state’s fruit  can compete in the  market. He urged the government to make Baramulla fruit Mandi functional at the earliest. Davinder Maniyal called for promotion of  citrus fruit in  Samba. He said the area has huge potential    but lacks marketing and processing facilities. He urged the government to take initiatives for better marketing of this fruits in the market so that more income is generated.


Shah Mohammad Tantray urged the government to make the Fruit Mandi Poonch functional this year. He said a lot of fruit is rotten owing to absence of a fruit Mandi in Poonch area. He also appealed the government to announce establishment of a walnut village in Poonch as it produces a good amount of walnut. He also called for filling vacancies in horticulture department Poonch. 

Abdul Majid Larmi also urged the government to provide liberal funding for early completion of Jaglipora Fruit Mandi. He demanded early release of relief for the flood affected orchardists of his constituency. Abdul Rahim Rather urged upon the government to devise a better marketing facility for sale of walnut. He also urged the government to develop High Density walnut nurseries in Kokernag area and establish a walnut orchard on the pattern of High Density Apple Orchards.

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  • House passes grants of Horticulture Deptt
  • Horticulture understated employment provider, generated 7.71 cr mandays during 2016-17; Comprehensive Horticulture Policy on anvil

JAMMU: Minister for Horticulture, Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari today informed the House that Horticulture sector generated a total wage employment of 7.71 crore mandays 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. The Minister said this while replying to the discussion on Demand for Grants of Horticulture Department in the Legislative Assembly, here today.


“About 7 lakh farming families with a population of 33 lakh souls are directly or indirectly dependent upon the horticulture sector in the State. It is one of the largest employment generating sectors as one hectare of an apple orchard generates almost 400 mandays per year, besides also generating healthy employment figures in horticulture as well as in other allied sectors” the Minister asserted.

The Minister informed that Horticulture sector has significantly expanded over the years with an area of 3.38 lakh hectares presently under horticulture, with a production of 23.55 LMTs of which fresh fruit production is 20.75 LMTs and dry fruit production is 2.80 LMTs and is contributing about 8% to the State’s GDP. During his reply, Bukhari said “I salute the farmers/growers for their dedication and hard work that has given the state’s horticulture sector its present position, despite facing several disadvantages. I aim to initiate reformative measures to support the growers so that we can achieve a dominant position in national market”.


The Minister also thanked the Chief Minister and Finance Minister for their consideration, guidance to further develop the Horticulture sector. All important deliberations from pre-budget meetings have been reflected in the Budget proposals viz; augmentation of CA stores, establishment of walnut processing units, development of nurseries of Mango and Litchi, promotion of Aloe Vera cultivation, refrigerated vans, finance orchard re-plantation, high density plantation initiative and development of road connectivity and irrigation facilities to orchards under MGNREGA, NABARD and PMGSY.

The Minister said that J&K produces 70% of the national production in apple, 92% in walnuts, 91% in Almonds and systematic efforts are underway to further strengthen the state’s position in production of fresh and dry fruit. “A Comprehensive Horticulture Policy is also being formulated for which the department conducted extensive census of existing fruit bearing/non-fruit bearing trees, an exercise due by 36 years” Bukhari said, adding that this updated data will help form a relevant and realistic policy for the state’s horticulture sector.


The Minister informed that the government has taken an initiative of converting/transforming half the quantum of existing land under apple orchards i.e, 75000 hectares into high density apple plantation to fetch better returns for the growers. Further, Market Intervention Scheme with Chief Minster’s intervention has also been launched during 2017-18 in order to prevent C-grade Apples from coming to market and to inculcate the discipline of proper grading among growers to fetch better returns, the Minister said.


Additionally, around 9 lakh high density plants will be imported in the next year to cover around 320 hectares of orchard area after observing necessary post-quarantine measures, the Minister said adding that 72 hectares of high density plantation has already been done by the department till date. Bukhari said that the department is actively pursuing the objective of developing its own nurseries by way of import of root stock and 3.47 lakh clonelroot stocks of imported varieties planted in ACHD Zainapora, Shopian, Bukhari said.


With an effort to improve the brand image of JK fruits and to undertake rigorous marketing in the national market, 2018-19 and 2019-20 are being celebrated as “Apple Years” under which various awareness and educational programme will be conducted at all levels, the Minister informed. To revive the declining market of dry fruit especially walnuts, a Comprehensive Revival Plan is under consideration, the Minister said adding that the Government is also considering establishment of a high-tech, walnut nursery at Zawoora for which a provision has been made in the current year’s budget.


The government is also providing 50% interest subvention for a period of 5 years for walnut processing units from the current year to encourage private participation. Under Public sector, a state-of-art processing and packaging unit of 10,000 MTs capacity with cold storage facility for walnuts is being taken up under NABARD, he informed. Bukhari said that the Government is also considering developing nurseries with improved varieties of Almonds to boost the sector.


To increase the shelf life of fruits especially apple, controlled atmosphere storage facilities have come up in the State, besides the government has decided to subsidize refrigerated vans and hire shelf space of CA storage in Delhi to boost the industry and ensure better returns to the growers/traders. The Minister expressed thanks to the Chief Minister for her intervention in revival of JKHPMC and said that efforts are underway for engagement of a competent Management Consultancy for submission of a revival plan.


The Minister informed the House that 2 Centres of Excellence are being established in consultation with Dutch experts at Udheywalla Jammu and at Zawoora, Srinagar at a cost of Rs 7.80 crore and Rs 9 crore respectively. Besides, 2 Pesticide Testing Laboratories one each in the twin capital cities have been established and 3 Mobile Soil Testing Vans, 2 in Srinagar and 1 in Jammu have been pressed into service, he said.

Bukhari said 6 Model villages including two Mango villages at Jammu for Sungal-Akhnoor and Mallaprode-Khour, 2 PeacaNut villages one each in District Rajouri and Poonch, a Model Apricot village at Hardass Kargil and a model Apple village at Khiram Sirhama in Anantnag are being developed in the State at a cost of Rs 29.62 crores. To give thrust to research, teaching and extension in horticulture sector, the government is contemplating to establish a full–fledged Horticulture University in the State in near future, the Minister said.


Two major centrally sponsored schemes, viz; Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) for overall development of the horticulture and Prime Minister Developmental Package (PMDP) for restoration of flood affected orchards and development of Horticulture are currently being implemented in the state. Under PMDP, an amount of Rs 20 crore has been allocated for development of solar driers in Ladakh region and an amount of Rs. 9 crore has been earmarked for establishment of Cold Storage facility in Leh and Kargil. Additionally, online facilities will be developed in three Terminal Markets in the next financial year to facilitate the fruit growers/traders of the State, Bukhari said.


The Minister informed that Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna for Apple and Mangos is being implemented in the state. The scheme has already been implemented in 10 districts in Jammu from 2017 onwards and modalities are working out for insurance in Kashmir division. Later, the House passed the grants of Horticulture department for the year 2018-19, which were moved by the Minister, amounting to Rs 52833.05 lakhs with voice vote.


Earlier, 21 Members participated in discussion on Demand for Grants including Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, Haji Rasheed, Dr Krishenlal, Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, Mubarak Gul, Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Mohammad Amin Bhat, Bashir Ahmad Dar, Shaktee Parihar, Asgar Ali,  Altaf Ahmad Wani, Yawar Mir, Dalip Singh Parihar, Akbar Lone, Sukhnandan Kumar, Sheikh Abdul Jabbar, Javid Hussain Beigh, Davinder Maniyal, Shah Mohammad Tantray, Abdul Majid and Abdul Rahin Rather.