Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti launched ‘J&K Bank High Density Apple Plantation Finance Scheme’ today here at SKICC amidst a gathering of top government and bank officials besides the fruit grower community. The scheme was launched immediately after the Chief Minister unveiled the ‘High Density Apple plantation Scheme; of the Horticulture Department.
The unveiling of the Scheme was done in presence of Minister for Education, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Vice Chairman, State Horticulture Development Board, Nizam-ud-din Bhat, Chairman & CEO J&K Bank, Parvez Ahmad and Secretary, Department of Horticulture, M H Malik. Many senior officers from the government and bank and a large number of apple growers were also present on the occasion.
The purpose of the schemes is to provide finance to growers for the development of high density apple orchards. The plant material, drip irrigation system, trellis system, operating costs for first two years and financial cost for three years till orchard reaches productive age will be covered under the scheme.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was also Chief Guest on the occasion, said, “The horticulture sector has kept the economy of the state alive as the soil of the valley is very fertile. What we need is to capitalize on the available potential. It’s here J&K Bank can play a pivotal role in realizing the explored potential in the sector. For this, J&K Bank, which has presence everywhere, has to further expand its footprints so that potential of the horticulture sector is explored to the full. At the same time we need to understand that peace is the key to register growth in any sector.”
“We will try to make this year the ‘Year of Apple’ and I request the chairman J&K Bank to reduce the rate of interest for the scheme, open more branches and take steps to create awareness among the apple growers about the scheme,” the chief minister said. She also mentioned involvement of Khidmat Centres for promoting the schemes.
Minister for Education, Syed Altaf Bukhari said, “The bank is going to provide finance, while the department will provide technical knowhow but the success of the orchards depends on the hard work of the grower. He has to utilize the expertise and adopt new technology with the changing times”.
Vice Chairman, State Horticulture Development Board, NIzam-ud-din Bhat said, “The valley is abound with beauty and resources. I suggest that if we have to take the state forward, we have to make Horticulture the brand of the state. We have to solicit grower cooperation and for that we will need to address their grievances”.
He further asked J&K Bank to use Khidmat Centres for creating awareness about the scheme among the growers and for proper guidance. He also suggested creation of an Apple Festival.
Earlier M H Malik Secretary, Department of Horticulture, I his welcome address said, “We will go to any extent to bring about change in Horticulture sector. We are going for Public Private Partnership for maximum production of apple crop. We are here today not only with the aim to maximize the apple production but for improving the earnings and standard of living of the farmers so that there is overall development of the society”.
He further added that the Scheme provides an opportunity to farmers for shifting from traditional methods of cultivation to modern techniques with the aim of enhancing their production and income.
J&K Bank Chairman & CEO Parvez Ahmed in his address said, “I come from the same background and I fully understand the needs of the growers. From my perennial experience I can say that Horticulture has a huge potential to boost our economy, but we need to switch over from traditional to modern day horticulture practices. That is why even if our soil and environment has been found superior to that of Italy, America or any other apple producing country our production is low in quantity as well as quality.”
Elaborating on the role of J&K Bank he said, “When we talk of realizing economic potential, it’s the availability of finance which fulfills this dream. It is here J&K Bank has been proactive in tailoring new customized financial products and services to tap the economic potential available in different sectors of the state’s economy. We don’t hesitate to restructure our products to match the present day requirement of our customers. While doing so, it is not profitability alone but the customer convenience, which is being given priority”.
He said that when the Apple Scheme was launched in 2012, the bank had an exposure of Rs 400 cr with 16000 borrowers while at present there are 1,30,000 borrowers availing finance of Rs 3000 Cr.
Assuring the hon’ble chief minister that J&K Bank will leave no stone unturned to realize the dream of Late Mufti sahib to have a modern apple economy in the state which will bring economic fortunes to the growers, he said, “The Scheme is going to be a game changer and we are committed to make it a success”.
The chairman while responding to the suggestion of the chief minister on the spot reduced the rate of interest from 9.90 to 9.50 percent. “We can reduce it further in future. Extending loans to the growers at 4 – 7 per cent under Kissan Credit Card scheme after establishing the high density orchard is a future viability,” said the chairman.
The Bank’s Senior President & CFO S K Bhat concluded the function by presenting the vote of thanks. He said that it is a memorable day for state, bank and the grower community. After apple, all other economies of the state are either lateral or collateral. This is because apple and Kashmir are complementary