Agriculture Department, SKUAST organise Seminar cum Training Programme on ‘Promotion of Niche Crops’ at Kishtwar

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KISHTWAR: The Agriculture Department Kishtwar in collaboration with SKUAST Jammu and SKUAST Kashmir, conducted a one-day seminar cum hand on training Programme on the ‘Promotion of Niche Crops’ here in the Conference Hall of the DC Office Complex.

This event was organized as part of the ongoing Holistic Agriculture Development Programme and aimed to highlight the economic potential and commercial value of niche crops, such as Kala Zera and Saffron, in the region.

During the inaugural session, Chief Agriculture Officer, Amjad Hussain Malik emphasized the importance of niche crops in contributing to the economic development of Jammu and Kashmir, with particular significance for District Kishtwar.

He urged field functionaries to educate the farming community about the economic prospects of these crops, contributing to their livelihood security. Furthermore, he directed their efforts towards diversification and expansion of niche crops, especially Saffron and Kala Zeera, in District Kishtwar.

In addition to the Power Point Presentations were presented by Dr Vishal Gupta  Scientist/ Head Division of Plant Pathology, Dr MH Khan, Scientist/ Plant Breeder, Dr Gh Hassan Scientist Zeera Research, Dr NA Dar Scientist Biotechnology, Er Basharat the

distinguished resource persons and senior scientists from SKUAST-J & K delivered comprehensive presentations, shedding light on the best cultivation practices and strategies for the promotion of niche/heritage crops (such as Saffron and Kala Zeera) specific to Jammu & Kashmir, with a focus on District Kishtwar.

They highlighted the major challenges associated with extensive cultivation of these crops, including the scarcity of quality seeds and planting material, suboptimal post-harvest management practices, and limited market linkages.

The experts also advocated for the establishment of Saffron Spice and Kala Zeera parks, alongside the creation of laboratories. These initiatives, they explained, would foster quality enhancement and value addition, ultimately leading to enhanced market access and profitability.

Furthermore, the speakers underscored the substantial demand and commercial value of these niche crops, emphasizing their potential to be awarded a Geographical Indication (GI) tag similar to the recognition granted to Kashmiri Saffron & other Niche crops.

This recognition would serve as a branding mechanism, elevating market value both at the national and international levels.

Participants in the seminar included the Saffron Development Officer, District Agriculture Officer, District SMS’s, SDAO’s as well as Agriculture Extension Officers, Junior Agriculture Extension Officers,  Agriculture Extension Assistants and other field staff from the Department of Agriculture. Dr Narinder Paul Scientist/ Head KVK Kishtwar was also present on the occasion.

The event succeeded in fostering knowledge exchange and strategic planning for the future development and promotion of niche crops in the region.

Similar training programme will be organized tomorrow on 22-08-2023 for the Farmers of the district.