SRINAGAR: The Rural Exploration Visit by Agricultural students of SKUAST- Kashmir Wadura to Gurez was held recently.
Students study tour was organized by the Faculty of Agriculture in collaboration with NAHEP, SKUAST-K, and was led by Prof. Tariq Raja, Dr. Iqbal Makhdoomi and Dr. Ajaz Qureshi. More than Fifty students were distributed in four groups to visit and explore different villages in Gurez valley and they later submitted a detailed report to the team manager, Qureshi, Students Welfare Officer of the faculty. Trophies were distributed among the winners in a Prize Distribution Ceremony for different events. On the last day of the tour, a cleanliness drive at MARS&ES farm Izmargm and the adjacent areas was also held to make sure to keep the environment clean and green. The visit was entirely a new experience for the students to witness different rural life of its valley. Gurez is specific in its topography. Balti Tribe people of Gurez speak “Dardi-Sheena” language and are always traditional in their good behavior. Gurez witnesses heavy snowfall of about 7-12 feet. People of Gurez call it Dardistan because of harsh winter conditions. Different activities were carried out by Students during their tour. They Visited Kufri Himalian, Potato Seed farm at Izmarg Gurez, Refugee village at Bugtore, Jalandoora, Zeera production farm and Habba Khatun spring at Dawar. Students also experienced trekking expeditions in the serene valley.
As Gurez remains in complete isolation for a time span of at least 6 months, the entire activities carried out during summer are meant to fulfill requirements of their livelihood and for their livestock/animals in winters. The climate is the biggest constraint to agriculture and their livelihood. The agriculture is of subsistence type and purely organic in nature. No chemical amendments/ chemical fertilizers are being used and the reason Gurez is also known as organic valley. People cut hollow trees and shape the logs into a traditional beehive. Agriculture farming season is very short which starts from May to September. People have thus adopted the concept of mixed farming. They cultivate Maize in a mixture with Potato and Rajmash/Beans. Some other crops cultivated are Zeera, Buckwheat (Trumb), Dwarf Walnut, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Bugtore Kael.
Students of SKUAST believe that there is an enormous scope for improvement if SKUAST-K developed Walnut is introduces to the valley. Gurez is also a treasure place for a number of medicinal plants. Some of the medicinal plants found in the valley are Kahu-Zabaan, Patrees, Dioscorea, Tethwan, etc. but are not supervised properly. These medicinal plants under the supervision of SKUAST-K scientific staff may not only help the local populace to generate their livelihood but will also help in GDP growth of the state.
Brown trout is a common fish found in Krishan Ganga River and its tributaries. People mostly depend on forest resources for livelihood. Their livestock (cow/poultry) also help them to earn their livelihood. Government has provided diesel generators to supply electricity to all villages for only a few crucial evening hours. People use wooden spades with a long handle, made of wood to clear snow during winters from the roof of their houses. The houses are made of wood logs and rocks which protect them from cold and heavy snowfall. Though, nowadays people have started constructing houses of brick and Cement and Iron. Some traditional houses constructed before 1965 can still be seen. Their wood carving designs are amazing.
Camp Fire Programs were also held in the evening near camp site and students participated in a speech competition on the topic “Rural life of Gurez”. Students also participated in various Cultural programs like religious speeches, folk songs, singing and drama/skits. students also participated in the Gurez Festival-2021 which was organized by the J & K Tourism department at Dawar on 15th July 2021.