Newly aappointed Dir Agri Manzoor Qadri inaugurates webinar on World Soil Day

Srinagar: On the occasion of World Soil Day or Soil Health Day a webinar was organised today jointly organised by Institution of Engineers (India) J&K State Centre, Srinagar and Directorate of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Kashmir. The theme this year was: “Keep Soil Alive, Protect Soil Biodiversity”. The aim of this day was to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources. This day aims to create awareness that preservation of soil biodiversity and sustainable soil management is critical for sustaining life on this Planet.
The webinar was inaugurated by Manzoor Ahmed Qadri, Director Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Kashmir who had joined as neww Director. Speaking on the occasion, he said that Agriculture Department has been making all efforts to ensure that benefits of various schemes percolate to the stakeholders particularly the farmers. He said that he will ensure that proper coordination mechanism with allied departments is put in place, so that fertile top-soil can be protected. He stressed on the need to reduce the usage of Chemical fertilizers. He suggested that the concept of backyard kitchen garden and vermicomposting needs to be encouraged and incentivized. He called upon the farmers to adopt sustainable techniques including usage of bio-fertilizers, and farm manure and also to adopt crop-rotation techniques to improve the quality of the soil. He spoke about Integrated Nutrient Management and said that soil testing facility has been made available in all Districts as well as Mobile Labs. He informed that numerous programmes were organised on World Soil Day across Kashmir Division today.
Er Aamir Ali, Chairman IEI said that our soil is under tremendous strain due to deforestation, urbanization, erosion, loss of soil biodiversity, improper agriculture practices, salinization, nutrient depletion, chemical pollution etc. and necessary measures need to be taken immediately.
Syed Altaf Aijaz Andrabi Former Director Agriculture said that due to the excessive use of fertilizers, pesticides and other such chemicals the soil is losing its health which can have catastrophic impacts on soil as well as humans. He said vermicomposting is the best method to replenish the nutrients of the soil. He highlighted that World Soil Day is an occasion when we can focus on the welfare of biodiversity as it’s a gift of nature and use it sustainably.
Bilquees Dar and Mohammed Suhail Wani Consultants Disaster Management stressed on the role of soil health in disaster mitigation. They said that systematic planning of the land can help land managers to increase the soil-ability. They also focused on the maintenance of soil health and its uses for the mankind and provision of resources in return.
Choudhary Mohammed Iqbal, Joint Director Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Kashmir informed that their department is making efforts in streamlining the activities of the farmers towards the use of organic farming. He said that the field officers of the Department often visit the farmers and make them aware about new and innovative technologies and their benefits. He informed that Govt has launched various schemes to protect soil erosion and the farmers are benefitting from it.
Arjimand Hussain Talib, Founder Editor, Ziraat Times, urged for a multi-disciplinary approach on addressing soil erosion, loss of soil vitality and bio-diversity challenges in Kashmir, said that climate change was playing a significant role in soil degradation in J&K and elsewhere in the world. He emphasised on developing a strategic plan for the conservation of soil and its bio-diversity in Kashmir. While highlighting the concern of low yield per hectare in Agriculture in J&K, he said that J&K was the highest user of chemical fertilisers among the Himalayan States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarachal, with J&K consuming 40 kg/hectare, Himachal – 35 kg/hectare and Uttaranchal – 8 kg/hectare. Reflecting on his experience of working on climate change issues in other parts of the world, he said that climate change is one of the most important factors in aggravating biodiversity loss in soil and its fertile top layers. He advocated for key departments and agencies of the Government to pool their knowledge, resources and grass-root reach in improving soil health in Kashmir.
Er Aaquib Sultan Deva Honorary Secretary IEI JKSC, said that there is need to avoid single use plastics, reduce, reuse and recycle non-biodegradables. She called upon to plant more trees and raise our voices for Greener cities, adopt organic foods, stop use of chemical fertilisers. She urged for creating awareness for using compost food-waste, adopting vermicomposting and bio-fertilizers. The webinar was on Zoom platform as well as live on facebook.

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