Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Saturday inaugurated the new Boys Hostel of the Faculty of Forestry worth 5.30 crore rupees and laid stones of Mini-Watershed Project costing 10 crore rupees, Trainees Hostel at 3.80 crore rupees and Academic Block costing 8 crore rupees at SKUAST-Kashmir campus, Benhama in Ganderbal district.
On the occasion, the Lt Governor felicitated the progressive farmers and handed over cheques of 5000 rupees each to 10 awardees of ‘Champion Farmer Award’. He also released 7 publications of Agriculture and Forestry.
Speaking on the occasion, the Lt Governor observed that the progressive and future-oriented approach of the government has brought about visible changes in agro-forestry situation in J-K, leading to the improved productivity, profitability and employability in the said sector.
The Lt Governor appreciated the collective efforts put in by the VC, SKUAST-K and his team for producing human resources in Agriculture and allied disciplines, developing technologies for solving farmer’s problems in agriculture and allied sciences, besides taking the Lab innovations to the Field in a bid to substantially increase the farmer’s income.
Our large population is dependent on agriculture and agro-forestry. The goal of rapid development of villages, forest dwellers, and farming communities can only be achieved by protecting our forest resources and integrating forest products into the new investment policy, the Lt Governor maintained.
J-K is blessed with immense forest wealth which needs to be protected. Our Scientists, senior officials, youth, and other stakeholders must engage themselves in rejuvenation of agro-forest resources, said the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor asked the concerned officials to ensure that action should be taken against those who have occupied the large forest lands rather than targeting only the poor.
The interest of the poor people who have been living in the forests for generations must be safeguarded, he added.
Speaking on the government’s endeavours to safeguarding the rights and interests of the communities dependent on forests, the Lt Governor stated that the UT Government is committed to fully implement the Forest Rights Act at the earliest.
The administration is working to ensure their rights. We are reaching out to the communities and stakeholders dependent on forests by opening up more opportunities for their livelihood generation, added the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor also underlined a host of innovative measures taken by the UT Government for branding, marketing, and transportation of local Agro-forestry products.
From GI Tagging of local produce to the Operationalization of Night flights and commencing of International Air Cargo, we have given a greater impetus to strengthening the market connectivity for the farmer’s produce, observed the Lt Governor.
The Central Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is giving a focused attention towards the development and progress of agriculture and allied sectors in the UT.
The Lt Governor also made some suggestions to explore more possibilities of growth and diversification in the agro-forestry industry.
He called for prioritizing the reproductivity of medicinal and aromatic plants, besides conducting a regular survey in this regard and preparing a working plan for the next one year. He also suggested the forestry faculty explore all the possibilities of integrating the forest products like Kot root plant with other growth potential industries.
He further shared the suggestions and inputs received by the farmers from every corner of the UT regarding focus attention to the value addition in agriculture.
We are creating new opportunities for rural employment. With the target of 2 FPOs in each district, the Government is working to create such facilities and ecosystem so that youth could also take up farming as a career option, the Lt Governor maintained.
The Lt Governor made a special mention of the women folks of J&K who are engaged in agriculture and allied sectors and called for opening up of more avenues for the women, in collaboration with JKRLM, for marketing of forest produce with medicinal properties.
Underlining the important role of the young generation in protecting and preserving the green gold, the Lt Governor observed that the increase in the number of youth, especially the girls, indulging in forestry is an encouraging sign.
Our young generation is aware of environmental issues like greenhouse gases; ozone layer depletion, global warming and I believe that they can play an important role in environment conservation and protecting endangered species, added the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor impressed upon the Youth, Scientists, and faculty members to work with the spirit of Jan Bhageedari in environment protection and dealing with challenges of climate.
Earlier, the Lt Governor inspected the stalls of vegetable varieties installed by the SKUAST-K and also planted a tree sapling on the occasion.
Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary; Prof JP Sharma, VC SKUAST-Kashmir, Pandurang K. Pole, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; Vijay Kumar, IGP Kashmir; Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, Director-General Horticulture; Prof. TH Masoodi, Dean, Faculty of Forestry and scores of farmers were present on the occasion.
Nuzhat Ishfaq, Chairperson, District Development Council, Ganderbal; Prof. Qayyum Husain, VC, Cluster University of Srinagar, and Prof. Akbar Masood, VC BGSBU were also present—(KNO)