Bridging the Yield Gaps: Role of Science and Extension functionaries

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Tasneem Mubarak

Rice is the staple food for majority of the world population and India is the leading rice producing country in terms of area and is the second largest producer next to China. In Jammu and Kashmir it is the staple food for the people of temperate Kashmir Valley and its cultivation extends from the planes having altitude 1600 m above the mean sea level to hills up to 2300 m above msl in the valley. Ever expanding population and shrinking land and other natural resources plus crop diversification especially area expansion under apple crop however demands a higher per unit area rice production with judicious natural resource management.
Since rice is the staple food for the people of valley, so an ample attention has been and will be paid to crop improvement and extension strategies related to this crop. Development of new varieties with higher yield potential and other desirable characters has been very crucial in bridging the enormous gap between production at farmers’ filed and the actual potential.
The contribution made by the State Agriculture University SKUAST-Kashmir through Mountain Research Center for Field Crops (MRCFC) ,SKUAST-K and other Divisions in the development of varieties like recent series of Shalimar rice for different altitudes and filed situations and related package of practices is immense.
The bigger challenge however is transfer of technologies from research fields and labs to the farmers’ field and here comes the role of extension machinery meant for technology dissemination in the state. As evident from the recent data, both Directorate of Extension SKUAST-Kashmir through KVKs and Directorate of Agriculture through district Agriculture departments have done good work in terms of transfer of technologies in almost all the major field crops including rice. Frontline demonstration programmes coupled with quality seed availability and technical backstopping through extension system have played a key role in this regard. Recent data of year 2017-18 for instance reflects a quantum jump in production and productivity of rice in district Kulgam over the last 7 years. Rice production and productivity in the district was 798723 quintals (q) and 48.67 q/ha , respectively in 2010-11 which touched an overwhelming figure of 1077760 q and 67.36 q/ha in 2017-18. That means around 35% and 38.4% increase in production and productivity, which reflects a very positive development so far as new crop varieties and their popularization through different programme of state agricultural university and agriculture development department is concerned. It is pertinent to mention that the national average productivity of rice is 25.5q/ha only. This indicates that in district Kulgam productivity is much higher against the national average and it is for this reason that this part of valley was once known as rice bowel of Kashmir. One thing is quite clear from these figures that coordination among different agencies at district level is bringing fruits to the efforts. Science is doing its good job and so is the extension machinery but policies related to land use need to be implemented without further delay to avoid crisis in future. All stakeholders must join hands and overcome the obstacles together as a single family with a strong will and commitment to serve our farming community and side by side ensure self-sufficiency in food grain production. Unity has great power and can bring unimaginable changes in the world around us. Let us work together with more strong bonds and feel that enormous power of unity, bringing all-round prosperity in the society.

—The author is a Senior Scientist & Head KVK-Kulgam,SKUAST-Kashmir. He can be reached at: