Jammu and Kashmir is a region where agriculture is the chief economic activity of the people. Agriculture is the backbone of J&K’s economy. It provides employment to 64% of the population directly or indirectly. However, net sown area in the state constitutes only 37%, of which 50% area is sown more than once in a year and 74% of the land holdings are below one hectare size. There are only 225 farmers who farm more than 20 hectares of land. Geographical conditions for agriculture are not suitable everywhere in the region.
The size of the net sown area in Jammu and Kashmir is diminishing and agricultural lands are being devoted to non-agricultural uses at mega scale. Especially in the Valley of Kashmir there is huge pressure of growing population on agricultural land. Net sown area came down from 62% in 1994-1995 to 37.62% in 2015-2016 as per officalfigures. The reality seems to be even graver. The valley of Kashmir which once was enjoying self-sufficiency in foods has now turned out to be dependent on food imports and other agricultural produce. The UT as a whole has attained the title of consumer territory because it depends heavily on imports. In Ladakh, the land is repulsive in terms of agriculture and only a few vegetables are grown due to the topography. The main cause of diminishing agricultural land in the valley of Kashmir is population, which leads to illegal construction on irrigated land and such land being diverted to construct shops, buildings, etc.
Horticulture in Kashmir has the maximum yield per hectare. The apples and walnuts of Kashmir are famous all over the world. In Kashmir there are many types of soils and these soils are devoted for different crops’ plantation. However, there’s a need for hybrid crops to get high yields and for improving the quality of the crops or fruits. Soil testing should be done to know about the constituents present or absent in it so that viable crops or plants can be introduced to that type of soil. High-quality equipment should be provided to farmers on subsidy basis and training camps should be organised by the agricultural universities and departments to give valuable information to farmers, like contour farming, crop rotation, etc. Land laws should be introduced by the government which would be beneficial to farmers but shouldn’t be against them. In Kashmir farmers have been facing hindrances for export of apples and walnuts, so the government should provide facilitation centres in every district from where these fruits can be exported to other states. There should be more schemes like PM KISAN YOJNA to benefit farmers.
The writer is a native of Ganderbal district and is studying at Kirmaniya Institute of IT, Ganderbal. Views are personal. [email protected]