Agriculture has shifted and is shifting qualitatively with every passing day in the Union Territory of J&K. From the traditional practices of producing a very few local crops to an alluring world of modern and diversified crop cultivation, adoption of latest agricultural equipment in farming practices, incorporation of modern marketing avenues, in order to benefit the producers and even to the astounding entrepreneurship in agriculture sector, J&K has come a big way.
Even as all the previous Commissioners, Secretaries, officers and the workers at different levels, associated with the Agriculture Department (AP&FWD), have tried their level best to serve the farming community and uplift them, the quantum of upgradation & transformation agriculture sector is witnessing under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Navin Kumar Choudhary ji, the present Principal Secretary AP&FWD, is charting a new history in J&K. Today, the government officials at the highest level as well as the common people of UT of J&K are acknowledging and applauding the positive transformation AP&FWD is bringing in the agriculture and allied sectors in J&K.
From April 2020 when the reigns of this department were handed over in the hands of Principal Secretary Navin Kumar Choudhary ji, J&K’s large population, mostly comprising of farming communities, was largely immobilized due to Covid19 lockdown. It was only by the swift mobilization, motivation and proper direction of Shri. Navin ji that the workers of Agriculture Department, despite the lingering Covid fears, went door to door to help mobilize the agricultural supply chain, deliver seeds & other inputs to the farming community.
The heights AP&FWD achieved under the able & dynamic leadership of Shri. Navin Kumar Choudhary, which started with GI Certification of Saffron by Govt. of India (last year) crossed a number of milestones like BAPL Accreditation of laboratory at IIKSTC Dussu, Pampore, e-marketing/e-auctioning of Saffron, Establishment of a number of Organic Vegetable Clusters & thereafter creation of Organic Mandis across the length & breadth of UT, planning & execution of Integrated Farming System in UT, Registration of a number of FPOs in the UT involving a variety of Agri. Products, etc. During these two years of patronage by Shri. Choudhary, the flight of the progress of this department did not stop here, instead crossed the borders and oceans wherein International Trade Fair was conducted in Dubai for showcasing the Agri. Products of J&K, in world markets and attracting the buyers for the produce of this UT.
Not only this, the department even cared for the conventional Agri products & made records by way of revival of the traditional products like Organic Virus free Potato (Hurpuri), Red Rice (Zag), Local Scented Rice (Mushkabudgi) & above all Kashmiri Lal Mirchi. While viewing the programs allotted to the UT under different CSS during these two years, AP&FWD again took a lead by the successful implementation of all the programs allotted to it . Even the Union Agriculture Additional Secretary- Govt. of India, who visited J&K recently, revealed that J&K can become leading potato seed producer in the coming days. It was only due to the efforts of Shri Navin Choudhary Ji, that the lavender Cultivation which has been given a vast expansion in Kashmir valley has even been widened to Udhampur district of Jammu province also, under the title of “Aroma Mission” .
Recently, it was only due to the perfect planning & visionary outlook of Principal Secretary, Shri. Navin Kumar Choudhary, that a new era of activities/achievements/MOUs, etc. has begun in AP&FWD. In order to uplift the farming community of the UT, this department signed several MOUs with different Organizations & Agencies.
It has been a historical step in the Agri. Sector of J&K, that a first ever MOU was signed between AP&FWD & Go Air for Shipping/Air transportation of J&K’s fresh perishable Agri- Horti products to national & international markets. Only due to this MOU, whereby Govt. gave nod to “PARVAZ”, a market linkage support scheme and notified subsidized rates offered by Go Air, whereafter besides certain farm fresh exotic vegetables produced here, Kashmiri Mishri Cherries were freshly available in Dubai markets.
Reposing full trust in his team & keeping a close liaison with them , Shri. Navin Kumar Choudhary while discussing/framing the J&K draft Agri-Horti Export and Organic policies (2021-25), called for mass awareness regarding proper branding , marketing & export of Special Agri- Horti products at grass root level by involving PRI members , eminent scientists & officers of the department. Feeling the pain & agony of his workforce, (caused due to stagnation & seniority disputes, etc.) Shri. Choudhary took certain exemplary decisions/steps, issued a series of orders of elevation & managed the different cadres of human resource of the departments, in such a manner that everyone got boosted & today in a pursuit of elevation/better opportunities everyone is working 24X7 to serve the farming community of the UT. It is for the first time that the officers of the department, who otherwise used to be at loggerheads with each other, have remained away from courts, disputes & litigations & its whole credit again goes to none other than the, Shri. Navin Kumar Choudhary. While expressing their gratitude & thankfulness to , Shri. Choudhary, “Agriculture Technocrats Welfare Association” –(an amalgam representing the officers of different Cadres of Agriculture Department in Kashmir)have, in one of their press releases termed the current period as “The Golden Era of Agriculture in J&K”. Being so obliged to Shri. Choudhary, they even requested the Lt. Governor & Chief Secretary of UT to not only honor Shri. Navin Kumar Choudhary Ji, with the best performance award in UT but even recommend his name for the national award, as well.
The endeavors of Shri Choudhary have no end. Taking a major step in the agriculture sector & adopting environment friendly farming practices across J&K, recently a consignment of IFFCO’s 15000 bottles of Nano urea were flagged off by Lieutenant Governor Shri Manoj Sinha Ji from Gujrat to the farmers of J&K. The latest & most recent a never before agreement, was signed between Principal Secretary -AP&FWD and BSE -e Agricultural markets (BeAM) and Policy Advocacy Research Centre (PARC)to create an Agri platform for promoting the electronic value chain trading framework, for a range of Agri-Horti commodities sourced from both the divisions of UT .
The activities are many & the achievements are numerous.
During this short span of time (April 2020- June 2021), it is only due to the tireless efforts of Shri. Navin Kumar Choudhary, that this year Agriculture Budget has been approved at Rs. 2008 Crores which is Rs 695 Crore more than the previous year’s budget.
This nation acknowledges the exemplary & outstanding decisions/steps taken by this selfless Principal Secretary -AP&FWD, who is taking every possible step to uplift the department of Agriculture on different fronts. The dedication, generosity & competence shown by him, in taking Agriculture & its allied sectors to the unbelievable heights & in streamlining the departmental cadres, shall be remembered by this nation for ages together. Besides Shri Choudhary ji, the farmers & Agripreuners of J&K shall also be obliged to Shri Manoj Sinha Ji, his excellency the Lieutenant Governor of J&K & Jinab Farooq Ahmad Khan Sahib – Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of J&K, who have always backed Principal Secretary, AP&FWD, in uplifting his workforce and proving to be proactive in the farmer’s/public welfare. The nation is also in praise for the current Director Agriculture, Kashmir Jinab Mohammad Iqbal Chowdary, who is working 24X7 to transform the ideas & instructions of his Principal Secretary into a ground reality.
Towards the conclusion, this nation wishes the the Golden Era of Agriculture in J&K to continue for more & more years to come so that J&K’s farmers realize the mission of doubling of their income and achieve greater heights of socio-economic development very soon.
(The writer works in J&K AP&FWD and is currently President of Agriculture Technocrats Welfare Association, Kashmir)