New Zealand on February 9 became the second foreign country to work with the J&K government after the UAE and pledged to help “in doubling produce in the farming sector” of the Union Territory.
The J&K government signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) “for transforming the sheep farming sector in the UT”. The virtual signing ceremony with Mischa Mannix-Opie, Executive Director, New Zealand G2G, was presided over by J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Raj Bhavan.
New Zealand Trade Commissioner for South Asia, Ralph Hays; Director Oceania, Ruby Jaspreet; Commercial Manager G2G, Erin Mehar also attended the MoC signing ceremony.
“The partnership is aimed at doubling produce in the next three years with substantial increment in quality of livestock products, wool production and introducing processing facilities and value addition to boost income and benefits to Jammu Kashmir,” L-G Sinha said.
He said the J&K administration was creating an enabling environment for the integrated growth of livestock sector, which is providing livelihood support to around 1.2 million families and contributing 5% to the Union Territory’s GDP.
The L-G said it will enhance mutton production, value addition of livestock products, capacity building, technology transfer, greater education and trainings in J&K for the benefit, welfare and prosperity of both current and future generations.
“Overarching objective of the MoC was to improve farmers’ remuneration, transfer of technology, marketing and value addition of sheep products of J&K,” the L-G said.
He said New Zealand is an important partner of India’s expanding relationship globally. “We attach special values to our ties not only because of deep bonding and cultural affinities but also from a mature understanding of our strategic convergences, global interests and economic potential,” the L-G said.
Mr. Sinha said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believe in shared commitment to promote ideals of democracy, peace and prosperity for the people.
“Despite turbulent events of global pandemic since the last two years, there has been almost seamless continuity in India-New Zealand relationship,” said the Lt. Governor.
New Zealand G2G, the well-known public sector entity, is also partnering with other Indian States to leverage expertise and solutions for sustainable development.
“The leadership of the two countries believes in the huge potential for our economic and commercial cooperation. We are committed to create conditions that would facilitate the rapid growth of this cooperation. I am confident this cooperation agreement between New Zealand G2G and J&K is just the beginning of widening and deepening our relationship in the future,” the Lt. Governor added.
OYO Group initiative
Meanwhile, the J&K government and the world’s leading travel tech platform, OYO Group, on Wednesday decided to launch rural home stay under project ‘Crown of Incredible India’.
L-G Sinha has announced ₹50,000 special financial assistance to youth willing to establish a home stay unit.
“With a market giant like OYO coming onboard, we are making inroads to encourage micro-entrepreneurs in the villages and revitalising local art and crafts and redevelopment of rural areas,” the L-G said.
The venture will help in building a tourist infrastructure of world standards in rural J&K. “By December this year, around 200 home stays will be available on OYO platform,” he added.
Ritesh Agarwal, founder and group CEO, OYO, said his group “is proud to extend its partnership with the J&K government to generate economic and employment opportunities in rural areas”.
“We are committed to strengthening tourism for the benefit of local communities and aim to work together with these micro-entrepreneurs to promote sustainable and responsible travel and home-stays that contribute to resilient local economies and support jobs,” he added.
OYO Hotels has tied up with 20 home stays in Pahalgam and 10 home stays are present on their platform as on date. The project also aimed to improve tourism in underpenetrated areas in Udhampur, Doda, Pahalgam and Kokernag, officials said.