‘Food deficiency to worsen in JK’

Cash Economy Driving Farmers To Horticulture: Experts

MUDDASIR ALI

Srinagar, Apr 27: Much to the worry of the State Government the food grain deficiency in Jammu and Kashmir, which has already touched 40 percent, is set to worsen. The concern was shared by a member of prestigious Indian Agriculture Universities Association (IAUA) at a special meeting held here Friday to discuss the challenges faced by the varsities in fields of education and research.
The IAUA has membership of around 60 universities, both at state and central levels. The Vice-Chancellors of different agriculture universities attended the meeting. “The food deficiency will grow in the state in future,” said Dr Tej Pratap, Vice-Chancellor, SK University of Agriculture, Science and Technology Srinagar while responding to queries on agriculture scenario in J&K.
He said the deficiency was the outcome of a “process” which cannot be stopped. “It is bound to happen as farmers in cash economy are more concerned about the benefits which drive them from investment in rice production to horticulture sector,” Dr Pratap said. “It will not be surprising to see Kashmir growing apples only and Bihar cultivating rice.”
An official report recently said there is an overall 40 per cent food grain deficit in the state. In Kashmir region including Leh which has a population of more than 72 lakh people, the production of different food grains including rice, wheat, pulses and maize is around 7 lakh metric tons while the demand has grown to more than 11 lakh metric tons.
The deficiency in food grains has been attributed to rampant conversion of agriculture land and depleting efficiency of the land. In Kashmir alone more than two lakh kanals of agriculture land of the net sown or cultivated area of 3.5 lakh hectares has been converted for commercial and other purposes, revealed a report prepared by the Agriculture department. The situation is no better in Jammu region.
In view of the problem, state government last year decided to bring a law to ban conversion of agriculture land. However the law is yet to see the light of the day.
Dr Pratap said there are laws for stopping conversion of agriculture land for commercial purposes. The University (SKUAST), he said, is not supposed to implement the laws but state authorities have to do it. “We can only help in research and provide tools,” the VC responded to a question. About the functioning of the university, he said though state government was helping them financially but there were not enough funds to carry out research and education programs.
Responding to another question that the University reportedly cut more than 3,000 trees of hybrid species at its Shalimar campus destroying a rare repository of germplasm meant for enriching state’s horticulture sector, the VC termed it “false.” “The civil society can visit the campus and see it is not true. We know the importance of the germplasm and we have preserved it,” the VC said.
Earlier, the heads of universities from different states raised concern over the identity crisis faced by them.
“We are facing a major problem that who owns these universities whether Center or (individual) states,” said IAUA president Dr CS Chakrabarti.
He said while state governments argue that the universities are owned by Government of India due to funding by it, the latter claims the varsities are the babies of the state.
“We expect adequate financial support from Center in fields of research and education,” he said.
The VC SKUAST said there is a need to set up an “Agriculture Education Commission” which should solve the problems faced by the varsities. “It will answer questions like who owns the universities, the financial problems faced by us and so on,” he said.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST




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