Income of J&K farmers lowest in country: GoI report

Farmers in Jammu and Kashmir have lowest income in comparison to their counterparts in rest of the country, reveals a government of India report.

The compound annual growth rates (CAGR) of real incomes between 2002-03 (NSSO survey) and 2015-16 (NABARD survey) of agri-households in Jammu and Kashmir is minus 2.3 which is not only lowest in the country but it is the only state with minus CAGR, according the report. 

Overall CAGR is 3.7 percent at the all India level, with a high of 8.4 percent for Odisha.

Experts attribute the failure of state governments over the period of time to draft agriculture policy as the one of the reason for dwindling income of farmers. 

Interestingly, the largest employer and the primary driver of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy – agriculture – continues to be in decline.

Over the past decade, its contribution to the state’s gross domestic product (GSDP) has fallen by 8 percent.

According to the Draft Srinagar Master Plan 2035, the share of agriculture has dipped from 28 percent to 16 percent, while industries (secondary sector) has stayed stagnant at 43 percent and the share of services (tertiary sector) has gone up to 57 percent in the past ten years.

Agriculture, which has been categorised as the weakest contributor in the draft master plan, provides employment to about 60 percent of the population, followed by the industries and services sectors. This has led to disparity between the average income of agriculturists and of non-agriculturists, which has been increasing since long and has made the major part of the population poorer.

Declining share of agriculture in the GDP has resulted in further dependency on outside supplies. Currently, J&K imports goods worth Rs 58031 crore a year.

In 2011, Jammu and Kashmir government had announced formulation of an agriculture policy, but seven years down the line due to the lackadaisical approach of the people at the helm of affairs neither the policy has been drafted nor the unabated conversion of the state farmland has been halted.

It was the government of National Conference – Congress alliance which announced agriculture policy will be formulated in order to find out solutions and give direction to the farm sector to match up with latest technologies and climatic changes.

After issuing scores of press handouts, authorities claimed in 2013 that the draft has been formulated which would be reviewed by expert committee in order to come up with a final comprehensive policy on agriculture production in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, since then the government changed hands, as PDP-BJP alliance was forged in 2015 which remained in office till June 2018, but the state’s agriculture policy didn’t see the light of the day. Even though, the previous regime also claimed of working on it on the floor of the Legislative Assembly.

A source in agriculture department said that the policy document was formulated to meet among others the challenges posed to agriculture crop cycle by the climate change phenomenon being observed across the globe.

He said policy would envisages measures for meeting the challenges of climatic change affecting the crop cycle and achieving self-sufficiency in food through comprehensive planning and intervention programmes, including soil mapping, seed replacement creation of dependable irrigation infrastructure, technology transfer to the fields. However, since 2013, there has no exercise done by the draft policy document to give it a final shape.

In absence of agriculture policy, Jammu and Kashmir is fast losing its agriculture land for non-agriculture purposes.