Centre launches organic farming scheme in J&K

By Times Of India on 13 Oct 2017
NEW DELHI: As part of the Centre's grand plan to convert the hilly areas of the country as exclusive zones of high-value organic farm products, the government on Saturday launched a scheme to encourage farmers in J&K to cultivate scientifically tested and commercially beneficial aromatic and medicinal plants in the state.

Under the scheme -- known as 'Jammu Kashmir Arogya Gram Yojna' — the government's key R&D body — Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) — will help the farmers with expert guidance and provide them saplings of as many as nine varieties of medicinal and aromatic plants.

The plant varieties, selected for J&K, include five different varieties of lemon grass (Cymbopogon), Rose (Rosa), Mint (Mentha), Ashwagandha (Withaniasomnifera) and Phalsa fruit plant.

Initially, 1000 villages of Kathua, Jammu and Udhampur in the state will be covered under the scheme. Similar schemes will be launched in other states, keeping in mind soil condition, suitable plant varieties and size and type of land holdings.

Different CSIR institutions like Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology (IHBT), Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and North Eastern Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST) will be associated with the implementation of the scheme, first in Jammu and Kashmir and then in other states.

Launching the scheme, science and technology minister Jitendra Singh claimed that farmers would be able to earn Rs 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh per annum per hectare through the programme. In some parts, IIIM will start the project on land leased/rented out by farmers on partnership basis. Profits will be shared with the lessor farmers proportionately, he said.

The central government will initially spend over Rs 25 crore on this scheme.

Elaborating on the scheme, Singh said, "This is a new concept whereby the agricultural land with the potential for growth of aromatic plants will be identified and CSIR scientists as well as aroma experts from different parts of the country will educate and train the local farmers to bring up this cultivation."

Asked the reason to launch the scheme in his home state, Singh said one of the important reasons to start this new scheme from Jammu region was that the IIIM, Jammu had been actively pursuing research and production of aromatic medicinal and perfumery products for several decades and some of the products produced from this laboratory were of international export quality.