A beacon of hope for farmers


As the technology advances, food production will become more streamlined and increasingly automated, driving efficiencies, and delivering healthy and sustainable food to the global population. If there is one industry that is guaranteed to grow year-on-year for the foreseeable future, which the world depends on, and is hungry to embrace new technologies to optimize production and processes, it is food. As the world's population continues to grow exponentially, so does the global demand for food. Back in 1987, the world's population was at around five billion. Today, the United Nations forecasts that this is set to increase to nearly 10 billion by 2050. Alongside environmental pressures such as water scarcity, climate change, and the limited land available for growing crops, the conditions are now ideal for innovation and investment in the food industry.
Generally, when we talk about food, technology isn't exactly the first thing we think about. Yet interestingly, technology in the span of recent years has largely revolutionized our approach towards producing and discovering our food with the use of applications, robotics, data as well as processing methods. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) has laid the grounds for various fresh developments in the food industry. Ranging from developing robots that can pick strawberries to smart greenhouses that are able to manage the climate, the technological progress being undertaken in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and internet technologies has been unleashing fresh prospects for clarity and enhanced management over the food supply chain. The Jammu and Kashmir government has launched an ambitious project targeted at revolutionising the food-processing sector and transforming the lives of farmers in the Union Territory. The 'UT Level Food Processing Programme for Deve-lopment of Clusters for Specific Products of J&K' is a Rs 879.75-crore initiative that aims to maximise farmer income and minimise post-harvest losses. This project has been designed to increase the competitiveness of seven identified products across categories in terms of cost, quality, branding, and sustainability within five years. The government is investing in value-addition, logistics, marketing and branding of various agriculture, horticulture and livestock products to achieve this goal. The project will focus on developing 17 districts in Jammu and Kashmir with the establishment of processing and marketing infrastructure, providing growth and development opportunities to stakeholders and facilitating suitable economies of scale in production and post-harvest activities. This project represents a beacon of hope for farmers in Jammu and Kashmir, who have been facing challenges such as post-harvest losses that are generally in the range of 15-20 per cent and the wastage of 20 per cent of the total fruit produced due to non-availability of packaging and processing facilities and mismatch between production and post-harvest management.

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