Srinagar, Jan 29 (IANS): The Jammu and Kashmir government has approved a prestigious project worth Rs 146 crore to promote the niche crops as unique heritage of the union territory, which will be implemented in the next five years, officials said on Sunday.
"The project aims at diversifying and expanding the area of niche crops over an area of 11,100 hectares thus ensuring livelihood security for 111,000 targetted beneficiaries with a revenue realisation of Rs 2,238 crore," Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Agriculture Production Department (APD), Atal Dulloo said.
The initiative will focus on increasing production, improving livelihoods and enhancing market accessibility.
This will be achieved through establishment of nurseries and seed villages, infrastructure development, and collaboration with various partners and stakeholders, he added.
Pertinently, Jammu and Kashmir is home to a diverse range of niche crops including saffron, kalazeera, Kashmiri lal mirch, peanut, anardhana, bhaderwah Rajmash, hill garlic, mushkbudhji (aromatic rice), red rice and shallot (pran).
These crops are grown on an area of 32,000 hectares, with a total production of 24,000 metric tonnes making a substantial contribution of Rs 945 crore to the GDP of Jammu and Kashmir.
The main components of the project include the establishment of 5,226 nurseries/seed villages, which will generate 7,750 job opportunities for unemployed youth working in the niche sector.
Additionally, the project will take up creation of one Mini Spice Park, two Modern Rice Mills and eleven grading and processing units in target clusters, which will be linked with available NABL laboratories and e-trading centres of the union territory.