The Horticulture Sector is the Backbone of J & K’s Economy. Here’s How and Why

The Horticulture Sector is the Backbone of J & K’s Economy. Here’s How and Why
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As far as Jammu and Kashmir’s economy is concerned agriculture, particularly horticulture are the key sectors for employment and income generation, for the simple reason that large scale industrial development is not environmentally feasible. Furthermore, infrastructural and economic development linkages are very important not only for economic growth, establishment of comprehensive and all inclusive international societies and technological innovations and advancements in vital sectors of the economy , in general , and manufacturing or industrial in particular but also for alleviation of poverty, reducing wage inequalities and income disparities.
Public infrastructure is an imperative for increasing the productive capacity of an economy (Qadri, 2018). Jammu and Kashmir, being underdeveloped and having very poor infrastructure to attract industries and to employ the highly educated unemployed and low skilled youth, must invest judiciously in horticulture sector to generate income and raise the output or productive capacity of the economy in the short-run and long-run, mainly during periods of economic slow-downs or crises and when the investment efficiency (Y/I) is high.
Consequently, horticulture sector continues to remain an important sector for socio-economic development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. With serious constraints on area extension and declining scope of other sources of growth of agriculture production, the divergence of agriculture towards non-food-grains and high value cash crops together with fruits and vegetables, well-matched with the comparative advantage of the area is recommended as a feasible and practical way out. It is very important to remember that these high value cash crops have the capacity of raising income levels, generating employment, alleviating poverty and export promotion. In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the opportunity and possibility to increase output levels by way of diversification is highest in the country as one per cent shift in area from food-grains to non-food-grains bring about more than 3 per cent growth rate in crop output(Chand, 1996).
There is a growing concern about the feasibility and sustainability of small farm agriculture in the Jammu and Kashmir state as small landowners were the main protagonists in J&K agriculture in the past, and the trend is likely to continue in the future as well. The graph of the average size of landholdings is declining at an increasing rate i.e. witnessing a declining trend, which is below the national average. It is contended and, , therefore argued that the viability of small farms can be upgraded and enhanced through diversification of agriculture into high value cash crops, mainly fruits and vegetables thereby increasing the scope of horticulture development.
It is very important to note that cash crops contribute to the generation of income levels, livelihood risks and innovations in the agriculture sector (Achterbosch et al., 2014). And the most important cash crop and horticulture produce that has greater efficiency and wide market is saffron (Ganaie & Nusrath, 2016) and apple. The Jammu and Kashmir State (primarily Pampore) has a natural monopoly power in the production of saffron, which is cultivated on Karewa lands (Wudar). Moreover, it produces 65 per cent of Apple, while 30 per cent of Apple is produced in Himachal Pradesh and rest of the 5 per cent is produced in Uttaranchal.
It is worth mentioning here that more than 90 per cent of apple produced in the state of J&K is the marketed surplus (the portion of a harvest that a farmer can sell in the market to earn a profit) and is exported to other states. Therefore, it is primarily the state of J&K which holds the key role as far as developmental strategies with regard to the horticulture development in general and saffron and apple development in particular is concerned.
The marketing of apple, pear and cherry in the state of J&K, in particular, and whole India, in general, is characterized by insufficient and inefficient transportation infrastructure, poor market intelligence and oligopolistic market structures. It is very true that marketing is a connecting link between income and output (Kotler,1983). In the same manner agricultural marketing is the fundamental link between farm sector income percolating to the farmer and farm sector production. Efficient agricultural marketing is likely to build a good link between agricultural production and farm sector income while as the inefficient agricultural marketing is likely to build a bad link between agricultural production and farm sector income(Lawrence, 1992).
Apart from transferring agricultural goods to consumers it passes on the price signals in the marketing chain or channels of distribution. An efficient agriculture marketing system will transmit strong and correct price signals while as an inefficient agriculture marketing system will transmit weak and incorrect price signals. And, markets if not integrated, the prices signals will be distorted, thus resulting into inefficient allocation of resources and also reduced farm gate prices thereby signifying that farmer’s share in consumer’s rupee is very less (1Re of consumer doesn’t directly go into the pocket of a grower).
Emphasis therefore should not only be given to the production and area coverage of various horticultural crops, but efficient marketing and promotion along with a view to profit. Since the statistics on prices in different markets are important for the producer, buyer and the end user to take profit oriented marketing decisions(Sherlekar, 2006), therefore , horticulture development studies and competent marketing studies should be conducted so as to direct and empirically estimate the degree of integration of various markets of horticulture crops in order to help the various stakeholders to take efficient decisions with regard to allocation of resources and marketing so that there are improvements in supply chains which have high elasticity of market (Frohlich, 2002) and efficacies in the domain of marketing.
Achterbosch, T.J., S. van Berkum and G.W. Meijerink. (2014). Cash crops and food security; Contributions to income, livelihood risk and agricultural innovation. Wageningen, LEI Wageningen UR (University & Research Centre), LEI Report 2014-015, 57 pp.; 20.
Chand, Ramesh, (1996). Diversification through High Value Crops in Western Himalayan Region: Evidence from Himachal Pradesh, Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 41(4), 432-441
Frohlich, M. T. (2002), “E-integration in the supply chain: Barriers and performance”, Decision Sciences, Vol. 33, 537-556.
Ganaie, M. A., & Nusrath, A. (2016). Marketing and Trade Mechanism of Saffron.IOSR Journal of Economics and Finance (IOSR-JEF) e-ISSN: 2321-5933, p-ISSN: 2321-5925.Volume 7, Issue 5 Ver. IV (Sep. – Oct. 2016), PP 55-62.
Kotler, P. (1983), Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning and Control, New Delhi: Prentice Hall Of India Pvt.Ltd. P.6.
Qadri, B. (2018).Bi-way causality betweenInfrastructure and Economic Development. Wadi Ki Awaz. Vol. 33 No. 03, 2018, page 07. Retrieved from. http ://wadi kiawaz .org/ epaper /m a rch%202018/03052018/main
Sherlekar, A.S. (2006).Marketing Management. Integrated Value-based Managerial Approach under Current Market Driven and Competitive Global Marketing. Thirteenth Revised Edition. Himalaya Publishing House.
Smith, Lawrence D. (1992). Costs, Margins and Returns in Agricultural Marketing. Marketing and Agricultural Development Paper No. 1. Department of Political Economy University of Glasgow. A paper prepared for marketing and rural finance service. Food and Agriculture Organization. September 1992.

—The author is Research Scholar at Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir, an Academic Counselor at the IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar and Editor EPH – International Journal of Business and Management Science & Asian Journal of Managerial Science. She is also the recipient of IJRULA title awards, 2018 winner (Best Researcher, 2018) and can be reached at: