SRINAGAR: Scientists of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) in collaboration with the agricultural department have not allowed the ongoing reduction of farm land to have any impact on the production of food grain in the Valley despite more than ten lakh kanals of farm land being lost in the last seven decades.
According to department data accessed by Kashmir Reader, the Valley has witnessed a growth of seven percent in food grain production against a loss of more than 13 percent of agricultural land over the last seventy years. Of this, about 6.7 percent has been lost from 2010-18, while as per the data there is a decrease of only 6.3 from 1952 to 2010.
As the data shows, food grain production in 1950-51 was 206.30 metric tonnes on the available land of 1.6 hectares. The food deficit, the data reveals, was 32 percent at that time. Contrast this to 2017-18 when production has gone up to 1,138.95 metric tonnes while paddy land has shrunk to 1.4 lakh hectares and maize is now just 66,807 hectares from 1.10 hectares.
“This is a significant development,” Director Agriculture Altaf Andrabi told Kashmir Reader, “because the population has gone from 17 lakh in 1952 to 82 lakh in 2017. Today we have a food grain deficit of only 24.47 percent.”
What has led to this significant development in the Valley? Replacement of crop by a high-yielding variety, development of surface irrigation and better soil and pest management, said Andrabi.
“Agronomy department of Agriculture University’s regress research, and then its spread to farmers by agriculture department, have led us to achieve these results. Though losing agricultural land to residential or commercial purposes is a matter of concern, but our efforts have prevented this from having any kind of impact on the production of food grains,” he added.
Associate Director, Rice Research Station, Khodwani, Dr G A Parrey, who is also the main person behind the production of high-yielding varieties in the Valley, told Kashmir Reader that the development of high-yielding rice varieties and integrated disease management are the reasons for the growth.
“In the 1960s, we had Chinese imported varieties which had a very low yield. In later years, until today, we have developed k39, Jehlum, Chenab and others. Some of them, though they have given yields, were given up due to less immunity to diseases. But today we have varieties which have the potential to grow 12 tonnes per hectare,” he said.