At a time when most of the unemployed educated youth across Kashmir are looking for white collar jobs, a youth from Gund Gushi Kupwara Showkat Ahmad Mir has established a vegetable farm which has helped him to earn in lakhs of rupees.
Mir, an undergraduate youth like others was confined to his village during the Covid restrictions last year, it was then that an idea came to his mind to establish a vegetable farm in close proximity to his house.
“Since there are few agriculture employees in our village I met them and shared the idea with them accordingly. They were really encouraging and accompanied me to their technical team stationed in Kupwara,” Showkat said.
“I began with farming sweet corn for the first year for which I was offered free seed from the agriculture department Kupwara. I did earn a handsome amount from it which encouraged me to carry on with the vegetable farming,” he added.
During the onset of this year Showkat switched over to multi crop farming, which at the end of year is proving to be a very good and fruitful decision in terms of profit.
“At the onset of spring season, I went to Delhi and brought a hybrid seed from there worth five thousand. I along with my wife and father sowed the seeds of different kinds in the green house already planted in the farm,” Showkat said.
“I sold seedlings including onion, muskmelon, water melon, gourd, pumpkin, brinjal, chilli, cucumber and others worth thousands of rupees,” he said.
“Then came the time of planting, I really benefited from the tiller I had taken on subsidy from the agriculture department. I did plough the whole field on my own and thus saved thousands of rupees which I was supposed to pay to the laborers,” he said.
According to Showkat modern tools have reduced labour expenses and increased the scope for more profit which was impossible a decade ago. He said that the tools including weeder, sprayer did play a significant role in reducing the expenses.
Showkat started the season by cultivating Kashmiri spinach and later planted the seedlings of tomato, onion, muskmelon, watermelon, gourd, pumpkin, brinjal, chilli, cucumber, cauliflower, cabbage, capsicum and others.
Since Showkat had planted hybrid seedlings, he was lucky enough to witness a bumper crop. He said that one tomato plant yielded him 35 kgs of tomato on an average and by the end of the season he sold out 30 quintals of tomato.
Similarly he has harvested 10 quintal crops of watermelon and muskmelon, 30 quintal brinjal, 1 quintal chilli, 40 quintal bottle gourds and pumpkins, 40 quintal cucumber and three thousand cobs of sweet corn. One sweet corn cob is being sold at Rs 15 per piece by Showkat.
Showkat said that regular irrigation to vegetables is a must and it increases crop production to the maximum. He himself has installed four large plastic water tanks in his farm in which he stores water for irrigation purposes.
Since Showkat’s farm happens to be in close proximity to forest, he has hired a middle aged person to protect his crop from being spoiled by monkeys. Showkat pays him Rs 4500 per month.
Showkat who along with his brother runs a computer sale and service shop at Kupwara said that he did not devote all his time to vegetable farming instead he works in his farm during morning and evening hours.
“I will not confine myself to only a few hours of vegetable farming instead I am intending to go for full time farming in future because it has yielded fruitful results for me,” Showkat said.
After the success of this year Showkat with his friend are planning to cultivate peas on 50 kanals of land from this year and for that they have approached the agriculture department for technical support and seed.
Showkat said that the success achieved in vegetable farming was impossible without the support and guidance of agriculture officials. He said that the officials throughout the season paid regular visits to his farm which boosted his morale.
“Since people love organic vegetables, there was much scope to excel in this field. He said that most of the youth from rural areas do possess their own land so instead of wasting their energy and becoming a burden on their family, they should turn to vegetable farming to earn their livelihood.”
“I feel so happy whenever any educated unemployed youth approaches me to establish their vegetable farm. In recent times half a dozen youth have approached me for the same,” said Showkat.
Meanwhile Chief Agriculture officer Kupwara Nazir Ahmad Wani said there is huge scope in organic vegetable farming, so youth should come forward to avail the benefits from different schemes being run by agriculture department.
He said that it was the right time for youth to turn to organic vegetable farming instead of wasting their time. “They can simultaneously carry on with farming and preparation for different government jobs. Indeed Showkat like youth is an inspiration for others,” added Wani.
He said that besides vegetable farming, youth can turn to bee keeping and mushroom cultivation for which his department can provide them technical support and other benefits.