Alarming Decline

Alarming Decline
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The contribution of agriculture, to the economy of Jammu and Kashmir, has dwindled to a meager 8% to its Gross Domestic Product(GDP). This is both alarming as well as paradoxical. It is paradoxical because Jammu and Kashmir is held to be an agrarian economy but, as statistics suggest, it does not appear to be one. If these stats are to believed then Jammu and Kashmir is a mélange and mixture of services, industry and agriculture one. On the face of it, this combination seems to be a prudent and welcome one- especially from a development economics perspective where the movement from agriculture to industry to services is almost a linear and sequential one. But, if the combination, is analyzed and probed a little further, deep structural issues and flaws emerge. The picture of the economy of Jammu and Kashmir that emerges is a warped one. The shift from agriculture is taking place under conditions and contexts that are not normal; moreover, the nature of industry in the region, especially Kashmir, is very basic and rudimentary. The same, albeit, in a more intense hue, is true for the service sector. All this assumes salience and poignancy in an era where profound structural shifts have taken place in economics, political economy, industry and commerce. In terms of the diminution of agricultural and allied activities here, the reasons accrue from lack of education and awareness, greed and the morphing of land- a factor of production- as an investment and trading avenue, which among other things, might have created a bubble in it. The commoditization of land, along with rampant urbanization, appear to have created pressures and, among other things, led to a decline in agricultural activity. All this is alarming because, it negatively impinges and impacts upon the food security of Jammu and Kashmir, besides affecting the structure of employment and skewing economic output. Is there a way out? Given the steep drop in agriculture and allied sector(s), what can be done, at this stage, is a salvage job. The nature of the remedial action can be to impose land ceilings, incentivizing agricultural activities and entrepreneurship thereof, planned urbanization and take strict and penal measures against corruption in this domain. Jammu and Kashmir can now never really be a “food bowl”, but this should not mean complacency and a sense of drift. Prudent, efficient and effective measures should be taken in the earnest to salvage our agriculture.

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