Dr FAROOQ AHMAD AGA
Diverse challenges and constraints such as growing population, increasing food, feed and fodder needs, natural resource degradation, climate change, new parasites, slow growth in farm income and new global trade regulations demand a paradigm shift in formulating and implementing agricultural research and extension programmes. Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is unquestionably the largest livelihood provider for the vast rural and hilly areas of Kashmir. It encompasses growing of crops like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, high value crops like saffron, zeera and vegetables. Among crops, apple is leading besides, pear, cherry, plum, peach, grapes, apricot and so on. Among dry fruits, by default, organic walnut and chest nut with traditional almond varieties are grown here with a great enthusiasm and technical guidance in terms of improved crop ,fruit and vegetable varieties besides improved breeds of cattle, sheep, duckery goose rabitory and poultry.
Aquaculture (Fisheries), non timber forest products and silk worm rearing are also gaining momentum in our villages.
SKUAST-K with its basic mandates like teaching, research, and extension has consistently enabled transformational changes through the development of appropriate technologies and its dissemination to farming community in terms of production and protection through advisories, trainings, awareness camps, radio and television programmes, publications, scientist-farmer interfaces and Kissan Melas cum exhibitions.
Recently one Kissan mela was organized by the varsity to portray the growth of sustainable agriculture technologies in terms of food security and rural employment. There was a magnitude of 128 stalls to experience the present and future of agriculture in our valley. Huge throngs of people including farmers from all the districts of valley, school children, college students and youth were seen at the exhibition locale of the varsity before the inauguration of the mela from morning till evening. Thousands of people were watching the exhibits put in stalls.
The focus was on potential areas like horticulture planting material, rice, maize, pulses, mushrooms, spawn and hybrid vegetable seeds. Scientists were trying to cope with their growing hunger for knowledge and aspiration to seek out opportunities in the ever-changing global agriculture, with its allied sectors including horticulture, veterinary, fisheries, forestry, sericulure, machinery and tools, post harvest and food technology, non timber forest products, herbs and medicinal plants, silk made scarves, aquariums, vegetable seedlings, high value vegetables, flower seedlings including tulip, button and dhingri mushrooms, bio fertilizers, aromatic oils, vermicompost, spray schedules, KVK stalls with multiple products, disease diagnostic kits, portable soil testing kits, feed and feed supplements, beekeeping suits, smokers, wasp traps, poultry birds and eggs, best breed cows and sheep.
Moreover, some private firms with different insecticides, pesticides, vermicompost, and other products were also a source of attraction. They have acquainted themselves with the most advanced technologies and also developed appropriate practices. The exhibition was a focal point for integrating Research and Extension activities for key stake holders for sustainable development of agriculture in the valley
—The author is Deputy Director, at the Director of Extension, SKUAST. He can be reached at: email@example.com