Seven Day Rural Exploration Programme under NAHEP for Faculty of Horticulture, SKUAST-K concludes

SRINAGAR: With regard to approval of Seven Day’s Rural Exploration Programme by Hon’ble Vice Chancellor under IDP-SKUAST(NAHEP) where students were had to live, eat and work in rural area to experience real village life situation, the undergraduate students of Faculty of Horticulture proceeded to Gurez.
The group was flagged off by Prof. Shabir Ahmad Wani, Dean, Faculty of Horticulture from Shalimar Campus. The programme was organised by Faulty of Horticulture in association with NAHEP. The group of sixty students selected were led by Programme Incharge Prof. Javeed Iqbal Ahmad Bhat, Dr.Liyaquat Chowdhary and Dr. Saba Banday in addition to auxiliary staff. During the programme the students observed the prevalent agriculture/horticulture and allied activities, indigenous technical knowledge (ITK), and grass-root innovations of the area.
The students comprised of about 50% Girls and 50% Boys.Boys spent their nights in the village Izmerg in a Farmer’s House with little basic facilities while girls stayed within the Campus of MAR & E station, Izmerg, SKUAST-K for security reasons.The villages where rural activities were explored by the students include Sheikh Pora, Jurniyal, ChakJurniyal, Nayi Basti, Izmerg, ShahporaBala, Chorwan, Chuntiwari, Julindara etc. In addition, the students visited the Agriculture Farm of Department of Agriculture at Dawar and the Potato Farm of Izmerg. The rural activities in villages were evaluated and compared with the research and extension activities going on in the campus of MAR & ES, SKUAST-Kashmir.
While interacting with farmers in the field and at their residences during the programme the students came to know that their traditional residential houses are made up of forest wood. Enquiring and observing their agricultural/horticultural practices the season for cropping starts from May/June to September/October. There is a pattern of mixed cropping. Agriculture remains a means of sustenance during winter when the Gurez valley remains cut off from Bandipora/Srinagar district. Crops cultivated include cereals (Maize, Wheat and barley), pulses (mainly Rajmash) and vegetables like potato. Others include pea, carrot, kale, Knol-Khol, cabbage etc.Orchards like apple, pear are being tried but not flourishing as expected due to short growing season and frost conditions on onset of spring as narrated by farmers. The agriculture practices are scattered due to sloppy nature of farming land but intensive and integrated. Students came to know about supplementation of fertilizers, there is no concept of use of chemical fertilizers as the agricultural practices are wholly and solely organic based. Wild wall nut was seen growing widely while buck weed was also observed in some patches.
Their propagation on large scale has a great potential to be explored. Also some spices like Cumin (Kala Zeera), Coriander, Fenugreek etc cultivation in some pockets were seen by the students. Among the livestock, cattle, sheep, horse and chicken were seen in the backyard of the farmers. The intervention of modern agricultural/horticultural practices by the MAR & E station of SKUAST-K was highly acknowledged and appreciated by farm community of the valley. The students notedthe distinct morphological features of KG-2 Composite variety of maize introduced by Prof. Zahoor Ahmad, In-charge, DARS Budgam at various locations including agriculture Farm at Dawar as compared to local maize variety.Studentsfelt that the extensive intervention in agriculture/horticulture on modern lines keeping intact organic farming is need of hour and sanction of KVK at Dawar town is right step in this regard as narrated by In-charge MAR & ES, Dr. Bilal Ahmad. Students during group discussion advocated that a step towards organic certification of the crops, especially Potato, Rajmash needs to be taken that will transform the agriculture sector in the area. Students also felt that Farm machinery should be established in the area with the aim to enable terrace farming. Some crop diseases were observed during visit to farm land and students discussed their remedial measures with Dr. Saba Banday and Dr. Waseem, Pathologists associated with the students. While evaluating the growing crops at Izmerg station students were satisfied with the organised and mixed crop pattern at Farm within station and conservation and restoration efforts for crop varieties carried out by scientists of the Mountain Research & Extension Station, Izmerg.
The scope for introduction of High-Density Orchard in the valley was seen as bleak as trial in the station have not been successful as narrated by scientists to the students, reason being high and intensive snow fall during winter. During group discussion students highlighted the problems faced by the farmers in terms of lack of transport facilities, electricity, internet excess, medical facilities etc. but it was really appreciated that education set up of Government schools was very much better keeping in view the remoteness of the area. During the stay students found an opportunity to interact with Brigade Commander Officials at their Head Quarter located at Dawar to see the possibility for intervention in the field of agriculture by SKUAST-K for development of the Farm community to improve their income. SDPO, Mr. Sheikh Adil Mushtaq spent a full day with the students in coordinating the smooth visit to various Border villages. In addition, he delivered a counselling lecture to the students who are passionate about Civil Service examinations. These interactions really boosted the morale of the students. The cultural activities in the evening hours including Camp fire were scenes of the event to be remembered. While leaving the station a cleaning drive was organised.This was exceedingly applauded by the Station Staff. The assistance, coordination and corporationprovided by Dr. Bilal Ahmad and his team mates was unforgettable. This is from student’s desk of Faculty of Horticulture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.