SRINAGAR: 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 (GDP) 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.
“It is a point of concern,” says the draft master plan. “That the combined contribution from primary and secondary sectors is becoming less than the lone contribution from service sector, is a very unhealthy condition for sustaining growth in the long run.”
The decline has primarily been triggered by the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, the document says. About 8.47 lakh hectare of agriculture land in 2005-06 has shrunk to 7.94 lakh hectare in 2015-16, as per the government figures.
A major casualty has been Kashmir’s staple food rice. Imports of rice from various Indian states have quadrupled in the past seven decades. About 21.70 percent is the deficit of rice production in the state at present.
Illiteracy, insufficient government support, unavailability of power, inadequate marketing facilities, and underpricing of agricultural products are the main reasons for the decline in agriculture sector, as per the draft master plan.
The draft has also attributed the dip to the lowest average land holding in the country, and laggard approach towards modern technology and agricultural practices. As per the document, the average size of farms is very small and approximately 90% of land holdings are of the size of 2-4 kanals, which results in low productivity.
“The sector has not adopted modern technology and agricultural practices to a larger extent. Also decline in plan allocations investment and investment credit are contributing factors,” the document adds.