Agriculture land shrinking in J&K: Union Ministry

Agriculture land in J&K continues to shrink, making the state more dependent on imports to meet food requirements, reveals the latest National Agriculture Census.

According to the census report by Union Agriculture Ministry average size of holding has shrunk from 0.62 hectares (ha) per person to 0.59 ha, from 2011 to 2016. The report has come on the heels of Economic Survey report which has highlighted that unabated conversion of agriculture land in Jammu and Kashmir for non-agriculture purposes was making 60% of the State population poorer by the day.

“This sector ironically supports more than 60% of employment and the effects can be easily seen in the disparity ratio between average incomes of agriculturists and non-agriculturists, which has been increasing since long,” the report reads.

“This means that a major population (60% people) of

J&K is becoming poorer. Also, keeping in consideration the scope of expansion in manufacturing sector and service sector (primarily with tourism industry under its kitty) the major bottleneck that can hold us back is the Agriculture sector,” the report adds.

From 2004-05 to 2011-12, the report says that share of agriculture in GDP has fallen approximately one third from 28% to 16%, whereas share of industry has remained almost constant. The share of services has improved from 43.71% to 57%.

As per the report, the arable land in J&K has shrunk from 0.14 hectare per-person in 1981 to 0.08 hectare per-person in 2001 and further to 0.06 hectare per-person in 2012.

“Factors like small holdings create problems in farm mechanization operations and make farming non-remunerative. Apart from population growth, urbanization process leads to shrinkage in per capita arable land,” the ES report says.

Experts cautioned that conversion of agricultural land was taking place in both rural and urban Kashmir, raising alarm bells.

In 2011, the Government had set up a committee under the chairmanship of then Horticulture Minister to frame a bill that would address specifically the issue of use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.

But the proposed legislation wasn’t finalised allegedly owing to political pressure.

In April 2012, the J&K High Court had passed directions against misuse of agricultural land, on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a non-governmental organization.

The Court had directed all Deputy Commissioners to ensure provisions of J&K Agrarian Act and J&K Land Revenue Act are implemented to stop conversion of agricultural land.