SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir faces a 40 percent food grains deficit and 20 percent vegetables deficit every year due to “under utilisation” of the available resources.
The state’s newly formulated Agriculture Policy document confirms that the state “still imports about 40 percent and 20 percent of its requirements of food grains and vegetables, respectively”.
And this is despite the fact that food grain production in the state has “more than trebled” from 4.53 lakh metric ton in 1950-51, while the import of vegetables has “declined over the years”.
As per the document, the state currently imports a “little over one lakh tones” of vegetables annually to meet the needs of its over 1.25 crore populace “70 percent” of which depends on agriculture and its allied sectors.
The deficit is due to “under utilisation of the available resource base” resulting in significantly low exploitation of the state’s agriculture potential, the document says.
“Arable lands are about 18 percent of the total geographical area, whereas the net sown area is only about 7 percent. More than half of the cultivable area is un-irrigated,” it says, mentioning climatic, geographic, topographic, and socio-economic factors as the reasons behind the low production.
The state’s net sown area is only 35 percent of the reported area, and the average size of holding is “very small” (0.545 hectare/holding), it says.
Besides, the “agriculture in the hills and mountains of the state suffers from inherent constraints of remoteness and inaccessibility, marginality and fragility in terms of moisture stress and poor soil conditions and a short growing season.”
“Added to this are socioeconomic constraints that primarily include small land holdings, poor productivity, poor production management, labour shortages, poor post-harvest management, poor market networks (lack of market development) and lack of entrepreneurship,” it adds.
The government is considering multiple measures to, primarily, attain a growth rate of about 4 percent and to harness the state’s agriculture potential.
The government intends to have a “research/farmers’ interface”, do “resource management for sustainable agriculture”, better “post harvest technology and marketing”, develop “homogeneous groups/clusters”, and to “strengthening input supply” as part of its “strategic planning” for improving the agriculture sector.
“Increase in cropping intensity will be achieved from the present level of 123 percent to 150 percent in Kashmir, 176 percent to 190 percent in Jammu and 105 percent to 120 percent in Ladakh region,” the plan mentions in the list of the proposed measures.
“Off-season vegetable production to ensure prolonged availability for domestic consumption and export…will be promoted; a regionally differentiated strategy will be pursued, taking into account the agronomic, climatic and environmental conditions to realize the full growth potential of every region,” it adds.