Bilal Bashir Bhat
SRINAGAR: Kashmir is still not able to develop its food processing industry despite much talk from the Government .The highly globalised and technological world Food Processing is an important industry .Food Processing Industry is growing at the rate of 20-25% per year in the country and all the voices here in Kashmir are hopeful that Kashmir would definitely benefit from it.
The estimated installed capacity of fruit & vegetable processing industry in Kashmir has increased to good extent. The processed items are fruit pulps, juices, jams, apple concentrate, canned fruits etc. There is a need to capitalise on market that Kashmir spends on carbohydrate drinks & juices amounting to Rs.270 crore .
Aman Qadri, a student states – “ in Kashmir there is a strong potential in the food processing Industry, where in the industry faces a wastage of around 7metric tons of fresh fruits due to non-availability of cold storages & insufficient industries in this sector. Unfortunately in spite of having a good vegetable production in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, not much productive and meaningful effort has been made either by the public sector or private sector to preserve and to capitalise on the vegetable processing. We have also not build the required infra in this context.
We are able to produce sufficient quantities of vegetables, sufficient enough to cater & fulfil the demand of the domestic market. Kashmir has the capacity to produce larger quantities of vegetables by utilising the wastelands for cultivation of vegetables. The State has around 744.47Sq Km of wasteland only in Srinagar out of which 578.96 Sq Km is fit for cultivation & if used for vegetable cultivation can pay very rich dividends.We need a vibrant food processing industry ”
Pertinently, all requirements of dried vegetables were in ancient times met domestically through sun drying by almost all the households of Kashmir valley but for many years there is a change in trend & this domestic practice has evolved as a full-fledged business wherein “pheriwalas/vendors” sell dry vegetables coming from villages to cities. This is partly due to shrinkage of vegetable gardens in urban areas and partly due to increase in the standard of living of citizenry and urban people who have lesser time to toil in such agricultural practices.
Definitely, Food Processing Industry should be promoted for promoting economy and vibrant Kashmir.(KNB)