Portrait of agriculture in J&K

We need to undertake a pack of steps that can change it for better

DR. H.A.MALIK/DR. NUSRAT JAN

The peculiar geographical situation and inadequacy of infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir has restricted the development of agriculture and the possibility of land productivity. The outputs of agricultural products are not increasing in proportion to the cost involved in the farming. The agricultural activity is, therefore, considered to be an uneconomic occupation.
Agriculture scenario in J&K: some bitter facts
The economy of the state is largely agrarian with 70% of the population dependent on it and about 49% of the working population engaged in it.
The foodgrain production of India for the year 2010-11 is estimated at 24156 thousand tonnes while it stands only at 137.15 thousand tonnes for J&K reflecting a very low share of about 0.6 per cent. It is unfortunate to note that this trend is almost stagnated at around 0.6 to 0.7 per cent since a decade or so. It is pertinent to mention here that the food-grain production in J&K has constantly failed to keep pace with demand and there is a wide gap of about 5 lakh metric tonnes. As such State has to relay on imports mainly from Punjab and Haryana accounts for Rs 1600 crores. One of the strong reasons for low yield is that we were not able to bring more area under irrigation. The net irrigated area in 1981-82 was 3.04 lakh hectares; it went up to 3.71 lakh hectares in 2008-2009 reflecting a very marginal increase even after three decades.
It is pertinent to mention here that the State could not qualify for National Food Security Mission (NFSM) - a flagship programme of Government of India. It is the need of the hour to create greater opportunities for making agriculture more profitable – a business enterprise which will provide remunerative prices to the farmers besides creating employment opportunities especially in a hill State like J&K.

Importance of Horticulture sector in J&K:
The horticulture sector in J&K accounts only for 13 per cent of the net sown area but contributes 45 per cent of the state’s agricultural GDP. Six lakh families comprising of 30 lakh people are directly or indirectly involved in horticulture trade. Horticulture has been growing in importance contributing to nutritional security, land productivity, employment, exports and farm incomes by offering a wide range of choice to the farmers for crop diversification. The varied agro-climatic zones in the state, ranging from sub-tropical in Jammu, temperate in Kashmir and cold arid in Ladakh, make it ideal to grow diverse high value horticulture produce. The forward and backward linkages offer tremendous potential for employment generation and rural uplift.

Export of fruits Foreign Exchange Earnings and import:
The economic potential of the horticulture sector can also be reflected from the export of fruits and foreign earnings thereon. During the year 2005-06, the quantity of fruits exported was estimated at 5552.45 Mts with foreign exchange earnings to the tune of Rs 115.95 crore while during 2010-11, quantity of fruits exported was recorded at 9615.55 Mts, the foreign earned on account of export is estimated to be Rs 208.49 crores. During 2004-05, the percentage change over the year 2010-11 reveals that there has been an increase of about 73 per cent on account of quantity exported and almost 80 per cent increase in terms of foreign exchange earned during this period. This trend is expected to increase many folds owing to growing demand thereby leading to substantial foreign exchange returns.
Heritage crops of Kashmir- Apple and Saffron (Productivity major concerns)

1. Apple:
The total production of apple in India is estimated at 2891.00 ( thousand Mts) comprising of 1852.41 (thousand MTs) from J&K State reflecting a major share of about 64 per cent reflecting the importance apple in J&K . (H D 2011)
Further, in the State , the percentage change for the year 2010-11 over 2004-05 reveals that there has been a significant change of about 37 per cent in terms of area , 65 percent increase with respect to production, however, the productivity has increased only by 17% during this period.
Apple productivity trends: world scenario:
France leads the table with an average productivity of about 43mt/ha followed by Italy with 38 mt/ha, Brazil 33mt/ha and USA with 30mt/ha also hold the leading chairs. The average productivity of apple in the world has been estimated at about 15 mt/ha, however, the average productivity of apple in J&K continues to be a great concern with about 10mt/ha.

2. Saffron:
Saffron is the costliest spice of the world. Saffron in Kashmir has a special status and prospects in Kashmir as it is attached with the very ethos of the people.
Area, production and productivity trends of Saffron in J&K:
The percentage change for the year 2009 over 1997 is terrible and shocking. The data available from State Financial Commissioner, Srinagar reveals that that the area has gone down to 31 %, while production level has reduced to 47 % also the productivity has declined to about 23% during this period. The contribution of saffron crop in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) during the year 2004-05 was recorded at 0.025 percent while it is 0.013 percent for the year 2009-10 indicating its gradual slump.
Saffron productivity in J&K: A major concern
Spain has the heights productivity levels of more than 8kg/hectare followed by Italy with 7.5 kg/hectare. The productivity of Iran is 4kg/hectare while it is only 2.15 kg /hectare in our State (Acta Hort-739; 2007) .Against the average world productivity of almost 4.80 kg /hectare, our productivity level stands only half of it.

Conclusion:
Apex organizations in State like SKUAST (K) and Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture (CITH) have made commendable achievement through research development; however, there is vast scope for further improvement to increase production and productivity trends particularly in case of Apple and Saffron. Strong measures needs to be taken for further exploration of high yielding varieties , production of quality planting material, Canopy management , High density plantation, Rejuvenation technology and water harvesting. RKVY can change the very fate of agriculture scenario provided strong research and extension efforts are required. Equal emphasis needs to be given to crop husbandry as food security and diversification are indispensable in nature. Technologies developed through Front Line demonstration (FLDs) and On-farm-trails (OFTs) needs to be disseminated through main extension system for the benefit of farmers at large to change the outlook of the farming community form traditional agriculture to diversified agriculture.

Authors are working at Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture (CITH) Srinagar, J&K, and can be reached at drnusratjaan@gmail.com

Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 29 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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