Agriculture Challenges in Kashmir

Agriculture Challenges in Kashmir
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Bilal Ahmad Dar

“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” Thomas Jefferson
The state of Jammu and Kashmir’s agriculture is declining to a large extent. Due to less or no investment, no resource availability and hence, no inputs, yield of about all crops is going to decrease to the greater extent. No reliability on water resources is also a major cause of the bad condition of agriculture. Unequal distribution of water and land also causes hindrance in the growth of agriculture in all the regions of Kashmir. Due to a fixation on only four crops and same policy for all the crops is also leading agriculture towards destruction. Actually, government policies are the same for agriculture sector from several decades. No new policies have been formed. First, marketing is the major problem for the farmer while the government is constructing good quality roads only but there is no attention of the government towards the marketing problem.
The price of all the inputs reaches the heights of the sky but there is no proper selling price at the end of the season of the crop and farmers suffer a great loss after suffering the major problem of transfer of commodities from one place to another. Secondly, there is no research plan in the process of policy development in the state and hence, the economic plan also compounds the problem.
Farmers require quality seed, water, fertilizer, farm machinery, research and extension for maximum output or money generation because this is the only way to earn and ensure maximum production for farmers in Kashmir. There are no improved and certified seeds for the small farmers in the state and there is no soil testing; fertilizers used by the farmer and no awareness about the recommended dose of each fertilizer and chemicals are also a gap in policies related to agriculture. Fertilizers not available on time force the farmers to apply extra dose while prices are increasing which the farmer is unable to afford. There is also an imbalance in nutrient mix fertilizers; this is a major issue due to policy gap.
Due to present situation/condition of agriculture, no awareness programs and lack of policies from several years, agriculture, in the future will face a lot of problems including water crises, and high costs of all inputs. Due to lack of the common platform for the farmers, there will be no content development in agriculture; no partnership will be among the public and private sectors and hence, nonexistent institutional capacity will lead towards fewer support facilities. Present policies or we can say “old policies” from years and backward agricultural systems will make the gap larger in research, extension, and science as well.
Conclusion:
The state’s poor condition can be changed into better and improved even into well-developed Kashmir. But, for this, we need a little effort and attention of the government to get awareness about our farming system so that this may play an important role in the economics. Our state, depends mostly on agriculture. (More than 25% of GDP comes from agriculture). If our government takes decisions to make new policies or makes amendments in current policies, agriculture in the state will make its economy better to high level to make the state the best in the agriculture sector

—The author is a PhD scholar at the Jaipur National University. He can be reached at: darbilalsultan@gmail.com